Washington D.C. Embassy of Finland
- Washington D.C.
The Provincal Archives of Hämeenlinna is in the Keinusaari district, West from the dowton area. The concrete used on the façades acts both as a graphically attractive surface that reflects the purpose of the building and as a strong and massive enclosure protecting the valuable content. The new building was designed by Heikkinen-Komonen Architects. The need to reflect the visible and identifiable role of a significant public building was acknowledged already at the design stage.
Buildings containing archives have traditionally been implemented as just normal office blocks in the town-scape. In Hämeenlinna the architects wanted to give the building a specific nature. The choice of the façade was made so as to create a story for the building, to tell also passers-by what is contained inside the building. This story is told by taking full advantage of the possibilities offered by graphic concrete. Whereas graphic concrete is usually used in slender repeated patterns, in Hämeenlinna the graphic pattern was strongly emphasised. Symbols, seals, text sections collected from the documents filed in the Provincial Archives were assembled on the façade in collaboration with graphic artist Aimo Katajamäki. The size of the patterns ranges from a few centimetres to three metres.
The structural solutions were determined on the basis of the 200-year service life, the high loads acting on the intermediate floor in the archives section and the strict fire resistance and indoor climate requirements. The frame of both the office section and the archives section is in most parts a cast-in-situ structure. The façades of the archives section, implemented in graphic concrete, are load-bearing sandwich units. A full-height light canyon between the archives section and the office section divides the building into different worlds with also the façades of the sections winding inside to form the walls of the light canyon. The patterns of the graphic concrete are repeated on the side of the archives, while dark-brown aluminium is used on the walls of the office section.
The Provincial Archives of Hämeenlinna was awarded the Concrete Structure of 2009 prize for skilled and demanding architectural and structural design and professional implementation. The building is simplistic and clean cut in shape, and in the townscape the expression of the archives section is based on simple and natural use of concrete, complemented with a graphic concrete patterning method, which accentuates the fine-tuned and sensitive characteristics of the coarse material.
Text: Betoni 1/2010