Architectural studio OOPEAA designed the Tikkurila Church in Vantaa, Finland, to be a place that is easy to visit. The interior was designed to be relaxed and inviting, with the aim of avoiding solutions that would make the church look like a municipal building. Finnish Design Shop’s Contract Sales provided the church with furniture and lamps.
IN THE CENTER OF TIKKURILA, Vantaa, there is a block of buildings with roofs falling and rising at surprising angles. On one side of the block, there is an eight-story residential building whose roof drops at a steep angle at the gable end, only to climb steeply at the corner of the block and form a spike with a tip at the height of 20 meters. Already the angled shape of the building makes it stand out from its surroundings. Furthermore, the multicolored brick façade, in which the tone gradually changes from light to dark, also adds something special to it.
The steep roof belongs to the Tikkurila Church, which was completed in January 2021. Plans for the construction of the church were already made almost two decades ago, when the previous church, built in the 1950s, proved to be in too poor a condition to be repaired.
Eventually, the construction of the church was realized as an alliance project, in which the architect, developer and client collaborated closely throughout the project. Architectural studio OOPEAA (Office for Peripheral Architecture), founded by Anssi Lassila, was selected as the designer, and Lujatalo Oy as the constructor of the new church.
Lassila had already demonstrated his ability to design modern church buildings. Lassila started his career already during his studies by designing a log church for the parish of Kärsämäki (2004). The exceptional church, built by volunteers, combines traditional construction methods with modern architecture. Later on, Lassila has designed the award-winning Kuokkala Church (2010) for the parish of Jyväskylä and the Suvela Chapel (2016) for the parish of Espoo, among others.
“We combined the church and the adjoining apartment building into a complex where the sections support each other.”
“This project differed from the previous ones in that the construction site was very urban, in the middle of bustling downtown blocks. The church needed to have a recognizable identity, but it also needed to blend into the urban landscape. Reconciling these partly contradictory requirements was facilitated by the fact that we were also asked to design the adjoining apartment building. We combined them into a complex where the sections support each other. The shape of the apartment building helps the adjacent, smaller church to stand out,” explains Lassila.
Architecture with a wow factor
Visitors who step into the church from the busy street in the center of Tikkurila are greeted by a stylish yet approachable entrance hall. The entrance hall provides access to all the facilities in the hybrid building. It is used by people participating in the events held in the church hall as well as people using the meeting and club facilities and offices of the parish of Vantaa and the Swedish parish of Vantaa, which are located on the upper floors. The entrance hall also provides direct access to the cozy street-level café.
“From the very beginning, the idea was to create an approachable meeting place that is open to everyone and where it is easy to stop by to enjoy some peace and quiet, have discussions and take care of matters,” explains Lassila.
The architecture in the entrance hall is streamlined and moderate. It only takes a glance to see which materials the building is made of: rugged concrete and light-colored wood.
“The range of surface materials is narrow. The materials used throughout the entire building include lightly bleached concrete and spruce with a translucent finish, as well as terrazzo on the floors. The more private offices on the upper floors are where we played with other colors and materials,” says Iida Hedberg, who acted as the project architect for the Tikkurila Church.
The church hall features the same minimalist style and materials as the adjacent entrance hall. Its architecture, on the other hand, offers a real wow experience. Everyone entering the church hall is greeted by a spacious and solemn space. One of the corners climbs steeply to the height of 18 meters. The gaze is automatically drawn to the sculptural windows of varying sizes on the concrete walls and the soaring ceiling.
The architecture offers a real wow experience. One of the church hall’s corners climbs steeply to the height of 18 meters.
The number of decorative objects has been kept to a minimum. Even the works of art in the space have been made directly on the concrete walls. In all its simplicity, the minimalist space is impressive and calming.
The simple exterior does, however, hide a great deal of modern technology and modifiable elements. In keeping with the times, the church hall is a multi-purpose facility, where, for example, concerts are held in addition to church events. The multi-purpose nature of the space is also supported by the movable interior walls, with the aid of which the hall can be modified to meet the needs of all kinds of events, with the number of participants ranging from less than 100 persons to up to 400 people.
Comfortable and modern multi-purpose facilities
In addition to the church hall, the hybrid building includes three higher floors housing club facilities and comfortably furnished small customer premises for private meetings, as well as modern multi-purpose facilities for parish staff on two of the uppermost floors.
“When designing the interior, we tried to avoid making the church look like an office building. We selected home-like furniture for the meeting facilities,” comments Iida Hedberg.
Finnish Design Shop Contract Sales supplied most of the furniture and lighting for Tikkurila Church. Johannes Nieminen, Key Account Manager, says that discussions with the main contractor started already in January 2019.
“Finnish Design Shop’s Contract Sales worked in the project for a couple of years. We introduced and offered products, borrowed color samples and sent sample pieces for the needs of users, designers and the contractor. In the end, we supplied most of the church’s loose furniture and designer lighting. You can find these, for example, in the church’s café, which is open to everyone. And they have absolutely fantastic pastries and bread there,” Nieminen says.
The street-level café is a good place to end the tour of the Tikkurila Church. The bright, timelessly decorated space provides the opportunity to sit in a design chair, enjoy a cup of coffee with a pastry and watch the people walking past the large windows. That space may be the one that shows best how the building has established itself in the busy center of Tikkurila.
The church will be there for a long time. And the reason for this is that the building was made to stand the test of time and should still be in use after 200 years.
Text: Anna-Kaisa Huusko Images: Niclas Mäkelä, Tuomas Uusheimo and Hannu Rytky