”Kuhan” a New Housing Block in Äijälänsalmi, Jyväskylä

OOPEAA’s entry ”Kuhan” wins the land allocation competition for a new housing block in Äijälänsalmi, Jyväskylä. The design proposes a community-oriented plan for urban living based on wood. Special emphasis is placed on creating a framework for a socially sustainable community by offering a broad range of apartment types to accommodate a variety of needs as well as by providing shared spaces for the residents to use. Responding to the contours of the terrain on the hilly site, the block is composed of buildings with varying heights. The project will be realized in partnership with JVR-Rakenne, Dymont Installation and Dyco.

To accommodate households of different sizes and formations, the block provides a variety of apartments ranging from town-house-like apartments to small studio apartments and to apartments with lofts in the upper floors. The block will be built with volumetric modules made of CLT from Finland. The use of prefabricated CLT-modules makes it possible to keep the construction time short and to minimize the disturbance caused by dust and noise during construction. It will also help to keep the exposure to the weather conditions to a minimum. The facades will also be made of wood and prefabricated in controlled factory conditions making it possible to achieve a high-quality in the detailing and to reach a high level of life cycle sustainability. The massive timber structure, in turn, makes it possible to avoid the use of any plastic membranes thereby improving the life cycle longevity of the building. In addition, the massive timber structure also helps to stabilize the humidity levels in the buildings and improves the indoor air quality by minimizing variations associated with the changes of the weather conditions.


Architecture and the Urban Context

The block is composed of three buildings that together form a village-like community. The arrangement of the buildings in the block is designed to create optimal lighting conditions for both the yard and the apartments regardless of the tight block structure. The building on the south side of the block is lower than the other two behind it. The roof-scape is an important part of the architecture. It gives the block an identifiable character while simultaneously creating a warm atmosphere. The shape of the roof also makes it possible to realize the apartments in the upper floors as loft apartments. It gives the block a contemporary feel and links it to the continuity of contemporary wood architecture. While there are references to traditional wood buildings, the architecture of the block has a fresh feel. Making use of contemporary methods it responds to the needs of today.


The Block and the Yard

Special attention has been paid to activating the ground floor level to support the formation of a sense of community among the residents. The entry to the buildings has intentionally been placed in the courtyard side instead of the street side and there is direct access from the town-house-like apartments to the yard. In the courtyard, there are sheltered green spaces for the community to use together. On the southern side of the yard there is a sauna for the residents to use along with a place for barbeque as well as an orchard. There is also a playground for children in the middle part of the yard.

The surfaces of the yard have been specifically designed to facilitate the absorption of storm water which can also be used for providing water for the garden. The surfaces on the yard are partly of natural stone and partly grass, and the service drive has been covered by natural stone gravel that connects it with the natural landscape of the surrounding area. The vegetation on the yard features local species and edible plants, and the green areas provide a rich and varied mix of flowers, vines, bushes and trees from fruit trees blossoming in the springtime to evergreen coniferous trees.

Together with the terraces of the town-house-like units, a zone of balconies forms an integral part of the architecture of the block. Extending the space of the apartments, the terraces and balconies offer functional diversity and give an opportunity for urban gardening while also providing the apartments protection from direct sunlight. They also give the complex an active and lively expression by creating a semi-public zone that makes the lives of the residents visibly present in the appearance of the block. A range of individual actions by the residents in the space of their balconies and terraces gets woven into a rich and varied tapestry that forms the identity of the block as an urban community with a human scale.


The Apartments

The floorplans are carefully designed to maximize the amount of daylight in the apartments and to take advantage of the views. The larger apartments in the block extend across the floor opening in two opposite directions and spanning two floors, and the smaller apartments are deliberately placed to allow the units to have a view to the south and southwest. The apartments vary in size and type from larger loft-style apartments in the upper floors to more traditional one-level apartments and two-floor town-house-like apartments with a sunroom and individual access directly from a small private green space in the yard. Each of the three buildings composing the block has one flight with regular apartments, and the town-house-like units are placed at the ends of the buildings.


Materials and Technical Solutions

The clearly defined shape and the straight-forward technical solutions of the buildings further emphasize the village-like human scale of the block. The loadbearing structure is made of massive wood (CLT) and the facades are also made of wood. The exterior facades of the block are treated with natural paint. The texture in the wooden facades creates a play of light and shadow. The balconies facing the interior yard are shaded with wooden scantlings that have been left untreated in order to allow for them to acquire a nice patina over time. The walls behind the balconies are shaded with light hues leaving the natural color and texture of the wood visible. Reflecting the changes of seasons, the vines that creep up along the scantlings give added color to the block. Wood is present also in the interiors in the walls and ceilings and in the partition walls of the balconies.

All the piping for water, electricity and ventilation is integrated into the wall between the hallway and the prefabricated apartment modules making it possible to keep the surfaces clean during installation and making the technical installations easily accessible for maintenance later on without needing to disturb the residents in their apartments. The temperature in the apartments can be individually controlled. Thanks to the excellent thermal insulation capacity of the massive wood structure it is possible to keep the hallways as a semi-warm space without any spillover effect affecting the temperature in the apartments.

The balcony zone lining the south side of the buildings helps to avoid over heating of the units and provides shade to protect the apartments from too much direct sunlight. The roofs are supplied with photovoltaic panels to provide energy for heating up the warm water used in the buildings, and it is also possible to install geothermal heating and to store energy from the photovoltaic panels in the summertime for use in the wintertime.

The design takes the human scale and the needs of the future residents of the block as its starting point. Making use of the material properties of massive wood and the advanced prefabrication process, the architecture of the new wooden block in Äijälänsalmi offers a technically efficient and sustainable solution based on renewable energy.





Competition 2020

3500 m2 / 43 APARTMENTS