Type

Invited Competition 1st prize 2015

Location

Helsinki city center, Finland

Status

Completed 2017

Year

2017

Scale

13 332 brm2

Client

University of Helsinki

Interior design

Think Corner

At the heart of the design concept for Helsinki University’s Think Corner is an approach to accessibility that enables the general public to experience this multipurpose building in many different ways. The generous fenestration on the ground floor opens the building into the street, bringing to mind the city centre site’s nearby shop windows. Think Corner thus creates its own shop window for the university as well as a centre for the academic campus. Within its spaces there are facilities for events and flexible use as well as quiet areas. The interior of Think Corner is designed around a lofty and airy court that leads onto zones with workspace accommodation over the free floors.

The approach to the interiors follows on from the form of the building. The palette of materials is restrained and focuses on Finnish pinewood and cast concrete surfaces as well as metal coated in black paint.

The furniture was designed so that it supports flexible usage of the interiors. Pieces are generous in size massive oak and made of high quality materials that complement the architecture rather than try and stand out as one-off pieces. The rooms’ colour scheme is deliberately neutral, allowing the events within the building to stand out as well as the abundant student life of this city quarter to animate the spaces.

An important aspect of the furniture design is that individual items can be effortlessly combined or moved depending on the occasion. The bespoke design sofas are on casters so that they can be rolled from room to room as necessary.

The university bookshop has had its furniture and fittings specially designed to continue the streamlined aesthetic of the other interior spaces.

Acoustics and lighting have played an important role in Think Corner’s interiors.  The surface materials are acoustically friendly and their acoustic properties have been enhanced by inserting specially engineered materials under tables as well as behind the timber wall screens. The lighting can be controlled through a truss based system that has been integrated within the central atrium’s ceiling. In designing the lighting, the natural light brought in by skylights above was also taken into account with great care. Another important consideration were the optimum light levels that had to be attained for performances and presentations at Think Corner’s atrium court. Overall, the lighting of the area around this key space at Think Corner highlights the warmth of the interior’s wooden finishes thereby creating a welcoming feel.