A Closer Look At OOPEAA’s Copper-Clad Suvela Chapel In Finland

This proposal for a copper-clad chapel by OOPEAA is designed to offer multifunctional space for a rich variety of activities and provide a framework for the residents to come together in a flexibly adaptable and functional space in the city of Espoo of Finland.

Image © Mika Huisman

Competing for the 2017 Mies van der Rohe Award, the building is an U-shaped and hybrid structure that forms architectural entity with bold and its tactile sense of materiality. 

The building is located in one of the most multicultural districts in the metropolitan area of Helsinki. The architects address attention to the needs of the culturally diverse community as a core principle of the project.

Image © Marc Goodwin

The Suvela Chapel covers a total of 4,600 square meters area and features spaces for children and youth as well as kindergarten, community spaces that can be rented out to the city to serve the community park.

Image © Marc Goodwin

The building also offers office space for the employees as well as for social workers and family services. A soup kitchen providing food for a very low cost is operating in the premises as well. The chapel naturally also serves as a place for mass, concerts, weddings, funerals, and baptizings.

Image © Mika Huisman

Built adjacent to the community park, all functions are placed on one level, and the building wraps into a single U-shaped entity forming an intimate interior courtyard in the middle. 

The different functions in the building orient themselves around the inner courtyard. There are facilities for a range of different uses from kindergarten and childcare to spaces for the youth as well as for the local community clubs.

Image © Marc Goodwin

''Suvela is one of the most multicultural districts in the Helsinki metropolitan region. Cultural diversity is both a rich potential and a challenge to the community,'' says OOPEAA.

''The chapel offers an easily approachable space with a human scale and an inviting atmosphere. The building serves many functions providing a home base for many different kinds of organizations and forming a dynamic place of activity. It is first and foremost a meeting place that serves members of the parish and other groups of people in the community alike.''

Image © Marc Goodwin

The building is built from wood as well as concrete and steel elements. A tactile sense of material has a strong presence both in the interiors as well in the exterior of the building. 

Image © Marc Goodwin

The exterior shell is entirely clad in copper to emphasize the unity of the varied volume of the building. Copper was an ecological choice of material for the exterior. It is both durable and recyclable, easy to maintain and therefore sustainable. 

Image © Marc Goodwin

''Due to the relatively long, dark, and cold winters, communal indoor spaces play an important role as places for people to gather in Finland. Public buildings, such as schools and libraries, as well as churches and chapels offer spaces that are open to all,'' adds OOPEAA.

Image © Marc Goodwin

''Providing schools, libraries and churches as places where people can come together in shared space has deep roots in the cultural tradition of Finland. The Suvela Chapel is part of this tradition.''

Image © Marc Goodwin

It also ages well and acquires a beautiful patina over time allowing the age of the building to show. In that way, signs of time and age are visible in the face of the building and thus contribute to a sense of the building being ''alive''. It is not mute or sterile, on the contrary, it has character and there is a sense of warmth to the building. 

Image © Marc Goodwin

Local spruce is the material used in the interiors. In the spaces for the children’s activities, wood is present also in the outdoor canopies that provide shelter from rain giving the children an opportunity to play outside even in rainy weather. 

Image © Marc Goodwin

The presence of wood is most prominent in the tall chapel hall where the walls are covered with wooden scantlings creating a warm and peaceful atmosphere.

The construction was completed in April 2016 and the Chapel was inaugurated in September 2016. 

Image © Marc Goodwin

Top image © Mika Huisman

> via OOPEAA

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