Press images: http://www.arkkitehtuurinfinlandia.fi
The purpose of the prize is to promote the appreciation of high-quality architecture, and to highlight the importance of architecture in producing cultural value and increasing well-being. The Finnish Association of Architects, SAFA, made the decision to establish the Finlandia Prize for Architecture on 12 December 2011.
The prize logo was created by the graphic designer Aimo Katajamäki. The logo was inspired by the earlier Acanthus leaf logo, drawn for SAFA by Alvar Aalto.
The Finnish Association of Architects, SAFA, is a non-profit professional organisation that actively promotes the interests of its members, as well as architecture and high-quality living environments in general.
The winner of the Finlandia Prize for Architecture 2016 selected by former Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen is the spectator stand and multipurpose building ‘Railo’ in the Sports Arena in Rovaniemi, northern Finland. Completed in 2015, the structure located near the city centre was designed by Arkkitehtityöhuone APRT Oy. The prize was received by the chief architect Aaro Artto at a ceremony held today in the Old Student House in Helsinki.
“Railo towers like a monumental landmark in the city. It fits perfectly into the ‘Reindeer Antler’ town plan designed by Alvar Aalto in 1954. At that time, the town was beginning to re-emerge from the ashes to become a proud Aalto city, rivalled only by Jyväskylä in its claim as Finland’s Aalto capital,” writes Paavo Lipponen.
“Railo appears immensely high. Attention is drawn to the wavelike form on the side facing the street and the partly wood-covered steel structures. The overall impression is lighter than if the building had been made of concrete. Ultimately, my selection was decided simply by the impression made by the architecture. I walked across the pitch and turned to look at the spectator stand directly from the front. What I saw was a building perfect in its form, as if a classic temple had risen under the northern sky,” says Lipponen, justifying his choice.
Kinetic work of art
The Rovaniemi Sports Arena is the home arena of the local football club RoPS. A competition for the design of the new spectator stand and multipurpose building was declared in 2012. The winning entry ‘Railo’ was submitted by Arkkitehtityöhuone Artto Palo Rossi Tikka Oy. In the plan, the new majestic spectator stand and the boulder-shaped residential and office buildings, once completed, form a crevasse-like roadway winding between them. However, the spectator stand and the facilities beneath it have already created a true landmark in Poromiehentie Street.
“By its size, Railo is a monumental building. The undulating row of supports in the stand lives like a kinetic work of art as you walk past it – illuminated at night and a composition of light and shadows during the day. It is an elevating experience to sit in the top row of the spectator stand and not only watch the football but also see the entire city and admire the beautiful hilly landscape surrounding it. Viewed from the pitch, the stand dotted by colourful seats creates an urban version of the scenic landscape,” says chief architect Aaro Artto
“The people in Rovaniemi wanted a multipurpose building and that’s what they got. One day when I went to take photographs of the sports hall I came to witness a dance practice by senior citizen ladies, which proved to be a delightful experience. Throughout the year, school children and parents practise, engage in physical exercise, play games or ski round the central field. This major project was executed during one winter almost entirely with local resources,” Artto concludes.
A cultural feat by Rovaniemi City
According to the Pre-Selection Jury, the architectural competition and its outcome was a major architectural feat by Rovaniemi City that will delight both the local football fans and visiting tourists. Rovaniemi has previously been known for a number of famous buildings designed by Alvar Aalto. The new sports arena and multipurpose building add a contemporary edge to the city’s high-quality architecture.
The Railo project was commissioned by Markkinakiinteistöt Oy and Rovaniemi City and built by Levi-Rakennus Oy.
The Finlandia Prize for Architecture is awarded for the design or redevelopment of a notable new building or group of buildings completed within the past three years. The prize may be awarded either to a Finnish or foreign architect, or to an architectural firm for a project designed for a location in Finland; or a Finnish architect or architectural firm for a project designed for a location abroad. Other candidates for the prize beside Railo were the Lappeenranta City Theatre, Löyly and Suvela Chapel.
This year’s Pre-Selection Jury members are Pirjo Sanaksenaho (Chair), Professor of Building Design at the Department of Architecture of the Aalto University and Head of the Research Institute for Health Care Facilities (SOTERA); Sari Nieminen, Artist Professor in Architecture; Eero Lundén, Director of Lundén Architecture; and Janne Pihlajaniemi, Professor of Architecture at the University of Oulu and Partner at M3 Architects. Serving as Secretary of the Jury was Paula Huotelin, Secretary General of the Finnish Association of Architects (SAFA).