The shortlist for the fifth Finlandia Prize for Architecture featured the Amos Rex art museum, Lallukka Artists’ Residence, the New Children’s Hospital, Helsinki University’s Think Corner and Tuupala Timber School. The 2018 winner was chosen by forensic orthodontist Helena Ranta.
Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District’s New Children’s Hospital was designed by SARC Architects and Architect Group Reino Koivula, comprising Antti-Matti Siikala, Sarlotta Narjus, Sakari Forsman and Susanna Kalkkinen. The team’s approach focused on the hospital’s young patients and their families, placing them at the centre of the design process throughout. Fresh and innovative, the end result represents an entirely new departure for hospital design.
“It is wonderful that a patient and family centred design process has also succeeded in delivering an architecturally ambitious result worthy of this incredible honour,” said Antti-Matti Siikala, the project’s chief designer.
Young patients and their families at heart of design process
The facilities and services at the New Children’s Hospital are designed to make life easier for children and families, many of whom will be facing a difficult and worrying time when they visit.
“Painted on the wall of the hospital’s entrance foyer are the words ‘Working together, for the safety and comfort of every child’ in Finland’s two official languages, Finnish and Swedish. This is a motto that I believe we can all live by. The children now have a hospital, where every single detail has been carefully and thoughtfully considered with their health and wellbeing in mind,” explained Helena Ranta.
“The New Children’s Hospital has been an exceptional project in many ways, but what truly makes it stand out is how immersed the design team has been in every aspect of the process, from considering the building’s impact on the wider urban environment to focusing on getting even the smallest interior details just right. We created our own fictional narrative to shed light on the actual experience that patients and visitors would have at the hospital. It was intended to support and inform our design work and ensure that we were well equipped to do our best across the wide variety of different interiors,” Siikala says, describing the design process.
The New Children’s Hospital opened on 17 September.
Prize highlights cultural capital inherent in architecture
“Fascinating” and “challenging” is how Helena Ranta describes her task of selecting the winner of this years Finlandia Prize for Architecture.
“Although they are very different, the five shortlisted projects all represent the finest in Finnish contemporary architecture, reflecting an entirely new level of openness and engagement with the ever-evolving world around them.”
The projects shortlisted for this year’s Finlandia Prize for Architecture have all succeeded in widening participation in the urban environment and making it more accessible for a diverse range of people. Amos Rex has begun to integrate into the open urban space in the Finnish capital, while the Tuupala Timber School is delivering quality, beauty and a better user experience for its students. In responding to popular demand for new opportunities for learning and engagement, Think Corner is helping to make science more accessible, whereas the Lallukka Artists’ Residence has been created exclusively with artists in mind.
“Artificial boundaries between buildings, spaces and their users of all ages are there to be brought down, and barriers are there to be lowered – what matters is ensuring that the spaces we create are responsive and adaptable to our changing needs. The teams behind the shortlisted buildings were rightly proud of their nominations,” Ranta concluded.