Merenkulkijanranta is a residential block in the district of Lauttasaari in Helsinki. It was completed in several stages based on an overarching design – the final building was completed in 2015. The apartment buildings fan out like fingers towards and over the sea.
The residential high-rise buildings at Merenkulkijanranta represent high-quality Finnish housing design. The plot is on the sea shore, at the nexus of natural and urban environments. A public footpath runs along the waterfront, passing under the building volumes. This right of way interestingly blends the public with the private and endorses the traditional Finnish view that urban waterfronts are for common use.
Based on a competition entry, the plan excellently leverages the maritime landscape and mood. Extending the buildings over the water is a rare feature in Finland, allowing for exciting vistas from the apartments and courtyard right on the sea. The apartments are almost palpably close to the sea, with excellent views and natural light throughout the day. The large windows frame the dramatic landscape, and the spacious vistas within the apartments lend a sense of space contrasting with the very efficiently utilised floor area.
The selection of materials is simple. The copper, stained a deep brown, protects the walls with a southern exposure from sea winds, while the white rendered elevations towards the north give added light to the courtyards. The rear walls of the balconies are in wood and the railings in glass. Careful landscaping lends a green richness to the courtyards – even large trees have been retained. The parking facilities are hidden under the courtyard decks.
Merenkulkijanranta is only one of many successful projects in the long and distinguished career of Professor Jyrki Tasa, which has included public and apartment buildings, and private homes. He typically dedicates himself to each design task with a deliberate avoidance of conventional solutions. Merenkulkijanranta, like Tasa’s designs in general, combines playfulness, power and a sculpture-like appearance in an innovative way.
The Finlandia Prize for Architecture 2015 shortlist