State Prize for Architecture to ALA Architects
Mr Paavo Arhinmäki, Minister of Culture and Sport, presented this year’s State Prize for Architecture on Friday 25 of May in Helsinki. The State Prize awarded by the National Council for Architecture was presented to the ALA Architects: Juho Grönholm, Antti Nousjoki, Janne Teräsvirta and Samuli Woolston. The prize sum for the award is €15,000.
Despite the young age of its architects, ALA Architects (ALA arkkitehdit) has demonstrated its ability to design and put into practice impressive architecture on an international scale. In addition, the architects Juho Grönholm, Antti Nousjoki, Janne Teräsvirta and Samuli Woolston have played a prominent role in the development of an entirely new generation of architecture in Finland.
The architecture designed by the group stands out especially for its self-confident forms and new means of expression. ALA’s designs are characterised by a comprehensive approach and clearly crystallised architectonic starting points and objectives. In addition to ALA Architects’ fresh and forward-looking designs, its connection to the very best traditions of Finnish and international architecture is evident.
The group’s current projects include the recently completed Kilden concert and theatre hall in Kristiansand, Norway, which has already attracted a great deal of international attention. From an international perspective it is quite rare for a group of such young architects to be awarded the task of designing such a major building. The group won the open architecture competition in 2004, which enabled the company to be formed. Kilden is also an example of how architecture competitions are the key to success for Finnish architect bureaus, not only within Finland but also internationally. Kilden has allowed ALA to acquire first hand experience in the implementation of a large-scale project.
It is essential in terms of the future development of the entire field of architecture that young architects are given the opportunity to solve the challenges presented by practical construction. The practice of organising open competitions that is typical in Finland but less common elsewhere is indeed one of the key success factors for Finnish architecture.
The unique look of Kilden is based on multiple contrasts. An understated black and boxy form is combined with an impressive façade made from local oak that extends outwards in the shape of a cap-like canopy towards the harbour, separating fantasy from reality both symbolically and ambiguously. The shape of the building is based on a bold combination of a tectonic and organic form language, as well as on the even somewhat exaggerated mirroring of the local topography. The stage tower has been successfully concealed, allowing the architects a higher degree of freedom for designing the overall form of the building.
In the field of urban planning, ALA has carried out several interesting projects in which surprising elements and parallels create a multilayered milieu. The plan for the Hanasaari district of Helsinki demonstrates how new residential blocks along the shoreline could be built in a surprising way in the form of terraces.
ALA is currently designing theatre buildings for the cities of Kuopio and Lappeenranta, as well as metro stations for Espoo. The bureau’s unique Cloud City project in Helsinki, in which the architects have sought alternative solutions for a building extension in a densely built-up area, has stimulated an interesting discussion on the opportunities for changing urban structures in our country.
For further information contact:
Senior Advisor Kirsi Väkiparta (Arts Council of Finland), tel. 0295 330 724