Info Centre Korona, Finnish Architecture, Architect, Photos, Project, Design
Info Centre Korona Building
Key Development in Finland by Ark-House, Architects
19 Dec 2008
Viikki Infocentre Koruna
Design: ARK-house Architects / Markku Erholtz, Hannu Huttunen, Pentti Kareoja
The Korona information centre is the new main building of the University of Helsinki Viikki Campus. The large Science Library forms a major part of the building and it houses the departmental libraries of the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, which were formerly independent, as well as the Pihlajamäki branch of the Helsinki City Library. The building also houses the administrative offices of the faculty and the campus, and the main teaching facilities and assembly rooms. The co-existence of the Science Library and the public library will provide an opportunity for cooperation between the two and expand the user base of the building, thus creating a link between the university campus and the surrounding residential area: a meeting place for students and the local community.
The Infocentre project began in 1996 with an invited competition. The name of the building, Korona, stems from the pseudonym of the winning entry. The name is a reference to the principal design idea behind the curved facade, a central feature in both the competition entry and the final design. “The outer circle is a radiating corona – in constant interaction with its environs. The ‘conservatory wall’ and its changing lighting give the building a strong identity during both day and night”, state the architects in their account. Varying transparency of the glazed circumference and the rich-colour and rough texture of the back wall create an interplay that brings the facade to life. Seasonal changes, the time of day and light source all affect the appearance of the elevation. The hue of the reflected light colours the surroundings of the building, establishing it as the key building in the Viikki area.
The interior spaces are organised around high, toplit ‘streets’ that lead from the entrance hall – piazza – at the heart of the building, towards the gardens, or ‘parks’ as they may be called. The corridors delineate the book stack space by opening up vertical and horizontal vistas across the building. The curved blue wall, as well as the auditorium, team work facility and office masses, lined with shuttering plywood, have been separated as independent elements. Together with the steel balustrades and staircases they establish the ambient colours and materials of the interior.
The curved facade is accentuated by three gardens separated from the interior spaces by a glass curtainwalls. The Nile Arboretum, the Roman Garden and the Kyoto Bamboo Garden represent the landscapes and garden art of ancient civilisations and symbolise the significance of global interaction in the expansion of human knowledge. The vegetation in the gardens is representative of the respective cultures and the disciplines studied in Viikki. Once the plants have grown, they will offer the library visitors a chance to stop for a while in the midst of greenery during the dark and chilly days of autumn and spring. In mid-winter, the temperature is kept below room temperature, at a level required by the plants.
A rectilinear area has been cut off the south-west quarter of the cylindrical building to form a square, flanked by the Biocentre 1 building at the opposite edge. The square links the contrasting geometry of the building to its context and creates a central public space of the campus area. The square is paved with concrete pavers and a grid of cobblestones that delineates the surface. The hardness of concrete is softened with grass sown in the paver joints, thus bringing some of the greenness of the surrounding lawns in the square. The contrast between the subtracted rectilinear form facing the square and the cylindrical portion is enhanced by different methods of cladding. The planar facades are characterised by the warm colour of the translucent coating of the wood batten sun screens and machine seamed sheet metal cladding. The sunscreens, canopies, and the cafè terrace form a linear pattern oriented towards the main entrance.
The glazed envelope of the curved facade is not only architecturally motivated but also has an ecological and technological function. The envelope acts as a low-maintenance ‘overcoat’, which enables the use of very simple structures inside, and eliminates the need for further weather protection. The envelope reduces heat losses during winter and the need for cooling during summer. The space between the glazing and the masonry wall acts as a climatic buffer used for preheating incoming fresh air. Thanks to the circular shape of the building, fresh air can be taken in from the desired sector, depending on the season and temperature.
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