TYS Aitiopaikka continues Turku’s ambitious student housing construction
The student housing block TYS Aitiopaikka, built based on an architectural competition, continues the ambitious architecture of Turku Student Village. The objective was to complement the existing urban environment with a unique new block.
The Student Village Foundation of Turku (TYS) offers housing for around 5,000 students around the city, and Turku’s Student Village is the largest in Finland. The first buildings were constructed by the Aurajoki river in the 1960s based on architectural competitions. This ambitious work continued in 2012, as the Student Village received a new extension, the TYS Aitiopaikka block. Sweco (Optiplan) won the architectural competition with the design solution Kukka (Flower).
“Our group of architects designed a four-storey building with an outer shell of light plastering and an inner shell clad in dark wood that covers the entire block,” explains Group Manager Jari Antila from Sweco. Although the new building is a closed block like the earlier ones, it has a new kind of design language. “The block is not square-shaped, but made up of one single building with curved lines that undulate like a petal.”
The design challenge was to create a sufficient amount of apartments, while ensuring that the rather massive building complex suits its environment next to the city’s entry route and the Student Village. The Finnish Heritage Agency has declared the Student Village as a built cultural heritage site of national significance. “The new 255-apartment block had to have the same scale as the existing urban structure and complement it in a unique way.”
The building creates a pleasant route through the block
Despite its size, the overall appearance of the block remains light. The courtyard can be entered from different sides of the building through curved openings. Instead of an extensive square, the courtyard is made up of four smaller areas and e.g. a play area and outdoor gym.
“The comfortable and sheltered yard area increases the sense of community among the residents and provides an experience for anyone passing through,” Antila says. The designers carefully studied people’s movement in the area. “The building can still be passed through to achieve the shortest route to the other side of the block. The parking spaces are also located behind the building.”
The outer shell of the long building has a unified balcony zone that supports the design language and protects from traffic noise. “The balconies also offer views towards the Student Village.”
Aitiopaikka was realised strictly in accordance with the competition entry
Energy efficiency was one of the objectives of the competition entry, and Aitiopaikka now produces more solar energy than it needs and provides it to other Student Village buildings. A geothermal heat collection circuit is also located below Aitiopaikka, and the apartments utilise heat recovery. Antila is delighted by the way TYS implemented the block’s architecture fully in accordance with the competition entry.
“The end result works in terms of overall urban landscape and implements ‘wow architecture’, according to the client’s wishes,” Antila praises. Only small compromises were made to the designer’s vision during implementation. “For example, sharp angles were accepted in inner walls since they are hidden behind the line of balconies. The solution decreased the costs but preserved the outer architecture of the building.”
Antila finds that TYS Aitiopaikka renews the traditional construction of student housing in Finland in an excellent new way. “TYS has high and ambitious objectives for student housing construction and the same admirable principles have been followed since Aitiopaikka.”
“The design challenge was to create a sufficient amount of apartments, while ensuring that the rather massive building complex suits its environment next to the city’s entry route and the Student Village.”
– Jari Antila, Sweco
“The new 255-apartment block had to have the same scale as the existing urban structure and complement it in a unique way.”
– Jari Antila, Sweco