University of the Arts Helsinki’s Academy of Fine Arts

How one space can be enough

Location: Helsinki, Finland
Function: Auditorium, Cafe, Learning spaces, Library, Multifunctional spaces, Offices, Workshops
Size: 13 000 m2
Status: 2019 -
Client: University of the Arts Helsinki
Scope: Architecture, Art integration, Furniture design, Graphic design, Interior, Restoration, Signage system

The University of the Arts Helsinki is developing its campus in Sörnäinen, an old manufacturing area close to the city center.  In recent years, the area has rapidly developed into a lively neighborhood with a unique urban culture.  JKMM has designed a new building for the Academy of Fine Arts, which will form the heart of the wider campus, bringing together theatre, dance and arts studies. Its robust concrete and brick architecture is in keeping with the industrial heritage of the area.

The move towards open platform learning has required a new architecture that facilitates collaboration. This is achieved through a simple spatial concept.  A top-lit triangular atrium is the focal point for everyone in the building, with all the faculties opening onto it.  It engenders a feeling of ownership and community for both staff and students.   

The raw and unfinished spaces in the Academy are flexible, leaving room for the art students to use these creatively and enabling the production of large scale works.  The roof top terrace with its sea views is ideal for exhibiting sculptures and an important social space for student life.