Reminiscent of Origami

Project: Aalto University Metro Station, Finland

Architects: ALA Architects in collaboration with Esa Piironen Architects, Helsinki, Finland

The West Metro facilitates over 170,000 passengers per day. The objective that has been set for the architecture of the eight new stations along the first, and the five new stations along the second phase of the extension is to create distinctive, location- specific identities for them on both urban and interior scale. At the same time, the metro will act as a link between the various urban centres of the City of Espoo and in a way creates its new backbone.

The architects have designed two of the new stations along the first extension phase: the Aalto University Station and the Keilaniemi Station. The architect is additionally working on three stations in Kivenlahti, Espoonlahti and Soukka along the second extension phase to be opened for traffic in the early 2020s. Otaniemi, today home to Aalto University, has since the 1950s had a strong individual character linked to science, technology and the general belief in the future. The growing campus is defined by the Alvar Aalto designed red-brick buildings.

The metro station resides in the heart of the growing university campus in Otaniemi. Its main entrance opens straight towards the former Helsinki University of Technology main building. Among other design decisions, the station distinguishes itself from the other stations along the metro route through its rich material palette. The palette has been picked as to avoid gloss, and to emphasize natural materiality. The station’s lowered ceiling is made of Corten steel panels. It visually connects all the public areas of the station, and relates to the surrounding red brick environments with its colour.

The faceted ceiling flows through the main entrance, to the platform level and up to the secondary entrance on Tietotie Street. Aged dark copper sheet cladding, grey granite and Corten sheets form the basis of the material palette for the above ground parts of the entrance pavilions. Visible structures are reduced in the entrance space with an engineered, athletic, light form reminiscent of origami. Natural light is brought down to the platform level via an escalator shaft that terminates with a view towards the lime alley of the Otaniemi Mansion.

Program: Underground metro station with two entrance pavilions and a technical shaft building, 15,500 m2 total
Client: Länsimetro
Design Team: ALA Architects: Partners Juho Grönholm, Antti Nousjoki, Janne Teräsvirta and Samuli Woolston with Anniina Koskela, Harri Ahokas, Santtu Hyvärinen, Niklas Mahlberg, Olli Parviainen, Jorge Rovira, Pekka Sivula, Pekka Tainio, Jyri Tartia and Yena Young Esa Piironen; Architects: Esa Piironen, Juha Lumme and Henriikka Ryhänen
Collaborators: Sweco PM (project consultant), CJN Arkkitehtitoimisto (coordinator), Konsulttiyhteenliittymä FKW
(geo, track & rock engineering), Insinööritoimisto A-Insinöörit (structural design), Pöyry Building Services and Insinööritoimisto Olof Granlund with Konsulttiryhmä Nissinen-Niemistö (HVAC),
YIT Rakennus (main contractor, station) Suppliers: Metek (glass surfaces), Forssan Sisärakenne (lowered ceiling), Kone (elevators and escalators), Seroc (fiber concrete)
Cost of project: 40 M€
Year of completion: 2017