Juminkeko Information Centre for the Kalevala and Karelian Culture
The building houses all the embassy facilities except the accomodation. The plot is on Massachussetts Avenue, the traditional, presitgious locale for embassies, the immediate neighbours being the Vatican, Norwegian and Belgian Embassies. On the opposite side of the street, facing the site, is the residence of the U.S. Vice President.
Tall Trees, most of the over 30m, grow on the small plot which is located on a steep slope at the edge of a vast park. The basic shape of the building is extremely simple. The small ground plan which does not impose on the park and the practical dimensions of the parking facilities on the underground floors were the governing principles in the design. A precondition for the design was that staff had to be able to park their cars inside the building.
The building, which has a deep frame, is split by the central hall, ‘the Grand Canyon’, which is illuminated by skylights and dominates the interior. The ramps, stairs and bridges, as well as the conference rooms and the tower-like sanitary facilities which are suspended from the ceiling, give the otherwise rather straightforward interior more spatial diversity. In addition to ordinary office and conference facilities the building houses a small library and a multipurpose hall which can be used for seminars, exhibitions and concerts.
The materials of the elevations are green granite (polished and matt), glass block, glass and bronze. A metal grid for creepers has been attached to the streetside elevation of the building facing the south. This natural green façade functions like a blind, but is also an architectonic symbol which changes character with the seasons.
Another architectural theme with non-material overtones is the light system in the forecourt and on the slope bordering the park. Light fixtures closely follow the structural grid of the building. On the forecourt, they have been embedded in the granite, whereas on the slope, the lights are mounted on top of slender pillars – a plane of soft luminous points which seems to extend from the floor of the multipurpose hall.
The principal designers of the embassy building were Mikko Heikkinen and Markku Komonen from Heikkinen-Komonen Architects, Sarlotta Narjus was the project architect. Local firm assisting the project was Angelos Demetriou & Associates. The embassy building was completed in 1994.
Source: Finnish Architectural Review 2/1994