Vellamonkatu Aparments for Elderly and Daycare Centre
The complex is a result of an open architecture competition arranged in 1985–1986 by the National Board of Health, the National Board of Social Welfare, the National Board of Public Building, the Finnish National Fund for Research and Development (SITRA) in collaboration with the municipal authorities.
The particular aim of the competition was to generate ideas for a new kind of institutional milieu, comfortable and homely rather than institutional. The goal was also to strengthen the ties between the public service facility and the normal environment, and to provide a model for joint healthcare and social service buildings. The young architects from Tampere based 8 Studio Architects won the architecture competition.
Hausjärvi Healthcare Centre and Home for Elderly was built in the turn of the decade, based on the winning entry. The plan was developed in the long design process. Some of the original details were changed to fit better for an institutional model building. The Hemgård Landscape Design realised the landscape planning of the plot. The project was completed in 1991.
The long rectilinear building forms a U-shape around a parklike courtyard on the entrance side. The side facing the road is more enclosed and wall-like. The residential part of the sheltered home is on the ground-floor level; the rest is built on two floors. A pedestrian way runs ’beneath’ the building, providing an important link with the surrounding environment and the local administrative centre. The governing idea is the second-floor ’indoor street’ that links the various spaces. Landmarks are provided by the six ’arbours’ or glass-roofed lounges. The space is semi-public; its primary purpose is to serve the occupants. The bearing structure is made of prefabricated reinforced concrete units. Thinly plastered sand lime bricks, lime painted in a pale colour, are used on the elevations. The facades have been brightened up with coloured slats, and other motifs.
The main facilities include a sheltered home (45 places), the inpatients’s ward of the healthcentre (30 places, 25 rooms), facilities for residents and non-residents, e.g. day centre, day hospital, physiotherapy facilities used by non-residents, e.g. the health centre reception and laboratory personnel, administration and home nursing facilities, and maintenance facilities. The private facilities, i.e. the sheltered home, is arranged in cells of 10–11 dwellings. Each cell centres on one of the arbours, and also has a separate dining area, along with a smaller lounge or television room. The rooms of the inpatients’ ward are arranged on the same principle. The purpose of the versatile common facilities is to encourage the residents to come out of their own rooms and to establish contact with their neighbours. The central public spaces on the entrance level are the healthcare facilities, the hobby room and the dining room. The waiting rooms of the clinics are located in two two-floor high ‘arbour’ units.
The central aim has been to avoid creating an ’institutional’ atmosphere – dark corridors, labyrinthine layout, monotony, excessive hygiene, etc. The most effective solution in this respect has been the interior street and the arbours with their natural light. Most of the people who use the building require various geriatric aids; this has been taken into a special account in, for example, the dimensions of the bathroom facilities. Colours and details have been used to add character to spaces that are usually given secondary status. The yard milieu is meant to encourage the occupants to spend time out of doors, and there are several exits for easy access to the yard.
Source: Finnish Architectural Review 4/1991