Submitted by WA Contents

JKMM Architects transforms former buildings into a new building for University of the Arts Helsinki

Finland Architecture News - May 11, 2022 - 10:02   1263 views

JKMM Architects transforms former buildings into a new building for University of the Arts Helsinki

Helsinki-based architecture practice JKMM Architects has transformed former buildings into a new building for the University of the Arts (Uniarts) Helsinki, the Academy of Fine Arts, providing students and staff with exceptional facilities for tuition and making art within an architecturally distinct building.

Named University of the Arts (Uniarts) Helsinki, the new building, creating a loop in itself and forming a central courtyard, provides references to the existing architecture of the buildings and pays homage to the history of Sörnäinen, a post-industrial neighbourhood buzzing today with young urban life.

JKMM Architects transforms former buildings into a new building for University of the Arts Helsinki

Image © Hannu Rytky

The program of the building range from student workspaces, printmaking, fab lab, studios, project rooms, editing rooms to lecture rooms, classrooms and screening, media and cad classrooms, staff workspace. 

JKMM created a building that integrates the ingenuity of the architecture in offering students of fine arts, lighting and sound design and design for the performing arts generous, muscular, well-lit, and clearly defined spaces. 

JKMM Architects transforms former buildings into a new building for University of the Arts Helsinki

Image © Tuomas Uusheimo

Conceiving the whole complex as a communal and modifiable architecture, the new building opens up itself to a variety of uses for creating and experiencing a wide range of art forms, using different media, and working on scales from the intimate to the imposing. 

"The architecture is thus there to enable rather than restrict creative endeavour," said JKMM. 

"Uniarts Helsinki’s Academy of Fine Arts has been designed as a direct response to the needs of future visionaries providing generous contemporary makerspace with the latest technologies." 

JKMM Architects transforms former buildings into a new building for University of the Arts Helsinki

Image © Marc Goodwin

In material approach, the studio aimed to design raw surfaces and create "a new sense of spatial and experiential adventure". The building had to be a building that can respond to artists' needs and challenge imaginatively and make their own.

Together with the Theatre Academy, the Academy of Fine Arts is part and parcel of the creative Uniarts campus on a site making fresh use of the eastern seafront of Helsinki downtown area. 

The two academies interconnect through an existing Modernist Silo building at the heart of the site. Inside, the silo’s strategically exposed concrete frame provides architectural vigour at this key juncture. 

JKMM Architects transforms former buildings into a new building for University of the Arts Helsinki

Image © Marc Goodwin

While the Theatre Academy, providing facilities for dance and theatre students, it is housed within a former soap factory. Based on the past references, JKMM has partly remodelled the building. 

In addition, the practice has transformed a neighbouring converted electrical works to provide the Academy of Fine Arts with additional accommodation directly linked to the new build part of the scheme. 

"In this way, the newly revisited Uniarts buildings introduce a significant and discrete 21st Century layer to the project," added JKMM.

The Academy of Fine Arts is affectionately named “Mylly” (Finnish for The Mill) referencing the building that preceded it. The pared down, even austere aesthetic of JKMM’s design and choice of clearly defined deep-set windows within the brick elevations reflects this functional industrial heritage. 

JKMM Architects transforms former buildings into a new building for University of the Arts Helsinki

Image © Marc Goodwin

At the heart of this five-storey building spanning over 13,000 square meters (gross) is a top-lit courtyard defined by a dramatic steel staircase that cuts through space diagonally from one level to the next. This creates a dynamic and communal core for the “Mylly” building as students move around from studios and learning spaces.

A large gallery is designed on the ground floor and this gallery space is accessible to the general public. The roof level incorporates a large outdoor terrace for making and exhibiting art together with far-reaching views over the city.

JKMM Architects transforms former buildings into a new building for University of the Arts Helsinki

Image © Marc Goodwin

"Our holistic design vision was informed by a need to bring people together into a building that allows flexible use but is also firmly rooted in its urban context," said the project’s lead architect and co-founder of JKMM Asmo Jaaksi.

"It was critical for us that the new spaces did not in any way limit what could be created within their walls but instead would inspire students to be bold and imaginative in pushing the boundaries of what they can achieve in the building." 

"In reality, the spaces are only complete when the arts students occupy them and make them their own," Jaaksi added.

JKMM Architects transforms former buildings into a new building for University of the Arts Helsinki

Image © Marc Goodwin

JKMM's aim was to design a future-proof the building that can serve for generations, and the practice has thought carefully about its supporting structures and their longevity. 

These have been minimised through load-bearing facades and a rational slab-column frame which will greatly facilitate change of use, if required, in years to come. 

Fair-faced concrete and steel surfaces and overall material choices have been specified for longevity and ease of maintenance.

JKMM Architects transforms former buildings into a new building for University of the Arts Helsinki

Image © Mika Huisman

"For interiors and furniture design we selected materials that work well within an old industrial setting and can withstand substantial wear and tear. Fittings are largely made of hard-wearing timber that also ages beautifully. At the same time, wood provides a welcome contrast to the concrete and steel surfaces," described the project’s lead interior architect Päivi Meuronen.

"We felt that the building should really embrace in an inspiring way the energy of student life and the process of art being made", defined Meuronen.

JKMM Architects transforms former buildings into a new building for University of the Arts Helsinki

Image © Mika Huisman

JKMM Architects transforms former buildings into a new building for University of the Arts Helsinki

Image © Mika Huisman

JKMM Architects transforms former buildings into a new building for University of the Arts Helsinki

Image © Mika Huisman

JKMM Architects transforms former buildings into a new building for University of the Arts Helsinki

Image © Tuomas Uusheimo

JKMM Architects transforms former buildings into a new building for University of the Arts Helsinki

Image © Tuomas Uusheimo

JKMM Architects transforms former buildings into a new building for University of the Arts Helsinki

Image © Tuomas Uusheimo

JKMM Architects transforms former buildings into a new building for University of the Arts Helsinki

Image © Tuomas Uusheimo

JKMM Architects transforms former buildings into a new building for University of the Arts Helsinki

Image © Tuomas Uusheimo

JKMM Architects transforms former buildings into a new building for University of the Arts Helsinki

Image © Tuomas Uusheimo

JKMM Architects transforms former buildings into a new building for University of the Arts Helsinki

Image © Tuomas Uusheimo

JKMM Architects transforms former buildings into a new building for University of the Arts Helsinki

Image © Tuomas Uusheimo

JKMM Architects transforms former buildings into a new building for University of the Arts Helsinki

Image © Tuomas Uusheimo

JKMM Architects transforms former buildings into a new building for University of the Arts Helsinki

Image © Tuomas Uusheimo

JKMM Architects transforms former buildings into a new building for University of the Arts Helsinki

Image © Tuomas Uusheimo

JKMM Architects transforms former buildings into a new building for University of the Arts Helsinki

Image © Tuomas Uusheimo

JKMM Architects transforms former buildings into a new building for University of the Arts Helsinki

Image © Tuomas Uusheimo

JKMM Architects transforms former buildings into a new building for University of the Arts Helsinki

Image © Tuomas Uusheimo

JKMM Architects transforms former buildings into a new building for University of the Arts Helsinki

Image © Tuomas Uusheimo

JKMM Architects transforms former buildings into a new building for University of the Arts Helsinki

Image © Tuomas Uusheimo

JKMM Architects transforms former buildings into a new building for University of the Arts Helsinki

Image © Asmo Jaaksi

JKMM Architects transforms former buildings into a new building for University of the Arts Helsinki

Image © Hannu Rytky

JKMM Architects transforms former buildings into a new building for University of the Arts Helsinki

Site plan

JKMM Architects transforms former buildings into a new building for University of the Arts Helsinki

Axonometric drawing

JKMM Architects transforms former buildings into a new building for University of the Arts Helsinki

Ground floor plan

JKMM Architects transforms former buildings into a new building for University of the Arts Helsinki

First floor plan

JKMM Architects transforms former buildings into a new building for University of the Arts Helsinki

Second floor plan

JKMM Architects transforms former buildings into a new building for University of the Arts Helsinki

Third floor plan

JKMM Architects transforms former buildings into a new building for University of the Arts Helsinki

Fourth floor plan

JKMM Architects transforms former buildings into a new building for University of the Arts Helsinki

Section

JKMM Architects transforms former buildings into a new building for University of the Arts Helsinki

Section staircase

JKMM Architects transforms former buildings into a new building for University of the Arts Helsinki

East elevation

JKMM Architects transforms former buildings into a new building for University of the Arts Helsinki

North elevation

JKMM won a design competition in 2017, and according to the studio, from the very start back creating a local source was an important aspect of the brief and the studio brought researchers and makers of art together and made it accessible to the general public as well: an arts building with a gallery and programme embedded within its community. 

Project facts

Project name: University of the Arts Helsinki

Architects: JKMM Architects

Interior design: JKMM Architects

Location: Helsinki, Finland

Size: 13,000m2

Contractor: Lujatalo Oy 

Structural design: Vahanen Oy 

Electrical engineering: Sitowise Oy 

Geotechnical engineering: Pöyry Finland Oy 

Audiovisual design: Ramboll Finland Oy 

Acoustics and sound design: Akukon Oy  

HVAC engineering: Sitowise Oy 

Fire consultant: L2 Paloturvallisuus Oy

Top image © Tuomas Uusheimo

All images © Tuomas Uusheimo, Marc Goodwin, Hannu Rytky, Mika Huisman, Asmo Jaaksi.

All drawings © JKMM Architects

> via JKMM Architects