The winner of the Finlandia Prize for Architecture 2023 is The Martta Wendelin Day Care Centre designed by architect studio AFKS Arkkitehdit. Read the jury's remarks and the winner's fresh comments on Design Stories!
AWARDED FOR THE TENTH TIME, this year's Finlandia Prize for Architecture went to the Martta Wendelin Day Care Centre in Tuusula, Southern Finland. Designed by AFKS Arkkitehdit and completed in 2022, the wooden building is described as an excellent demonstration of ways to accomplish the transition towards a more carbon-neutral built environment.
For the benefit of future generations
The Finlandia Prize for Architecture is awarded annually by the Association of Finnish Architects (SAFA). This year, the winner was chosen by philanthropist and climate activist Anna Herlin, who in her remarks focused on the winning project’s long-term environmental and climate impact and its potential for making a positive contribution to the end users’ lives.
“In commissioning this building to replace now-defunct facilities, Tuusula’s local authority has demonstrated that it approaches its role as a guardian of future generations with the utmost seriousness,” says Herlin.
“The Martta Wendelin Day Care Centre is a new development that has been created to meet a genuine need. It is clear that the focus throughout has been on delivering something that will promote the safety and well-being of all concerned.”
Minimal noise from the motorway (and the minis)
Designed to provide facilities for around 200 children, the wooden daycare center is located near the busy Tuusulanväylä motorway. However, the noise and pollution have been accounted for with a skillfully chosen orientation: the interiors face south towards open parkland views and sunlight.
In its comments, SAFA’s Pre-Selection Jury noted that the use of cross-laminated timber (CLT) for the external and internal walls as well as all intermediate walls is an excellent choice in terms of the building’s carbon handprint as well as the health and safety of its users. CLT will also help to minimize the noise generated by the vibrant, joyful, and energetic everyday life of the nursery itself.
For the greater good
The building was designed by Jari Frondelius of AFKS Arkkitehdit with Jaakko Keppo and Juha Salmenperä and project architects Tommi Kantanen and Mikko Liski. The outdoor areas are the work of landscape architect Soile Heikkinen.
“It is particularly pleasing that the prize has been awarded to such an everyday building, designed with the express purpose of delivering common good,” says Jari Frondelius, the project’s lead designer.
“At AFKS, we specialize in schools and daycare centers, so the Martta Wendelin building is actually very much a bread-and-butter project for us. It’s very special for us to see our everyday professional contribution recognized in this way as something meaningful and even held up as a model for future development.”
It’s a kid’s world
The architect studio’s vast experience in designing daycare centers is evident in how user-oriented the building is. This was also one of Anna Herlin’s criteria for choosing the winner.
“It is the scale of the building that reveals the child-centered approach taken here. The daycare center may be a high-volume development, but internally it comprises a series of spaces that are built with the children’s comfort in mind, right down to the low-height sinks. The huge outdoor space offers the perfect setting for children to do what they do best: running, jumping, and climbing. The Martta Wendelin Day Care Centre is a fragment of a future worth striving for, brought into the present,” Herlin says.
Design Stories sends the warmest of congratulations to AFKS Arkkitehdit!
Edit: Emmi Ratilainen Images: Hannu Rytky