Tikkurila Church and Housing by OOPEAA in Finland is an expression in scale and form

The new multifunctional complex containing a church, café, offices and meeting spaces and housing meets both the service provision and social needs of the entire community.

by Devanshi ShahPublished on : Jan 24, 2022

What is multi-functional design? When we think about numerous programmatic overlaps housed in a single structure, what are the implications for the architecture of the structure? We often see standardised cubes with the rectilinear profile that houses multiple functions. It is often hard to decipher what lies behind these cuboidal forms as their facades do not define the spaces within. The importance of evaluating façade design not only as an element of the exterior but a membrane that encapsulates the interior design helps establish a more defined form as opposed to planes that fit together as an assemblage of a larger mass.

  • View of the Tikkurila Church and Housing complex | Tikkurila Church and Housing by Oopeaa | STIRworld
    View of the Tikkurila Church and Housing complex Image: Marc Goodwin
  • View of the Tikkurila Church and Housing complex from the town square | Tikkurila Church and Housing by Oopeaa | STIRworld
    View of the Tikkurila Church and Housing complex from the town square Image: Marc Goodwin

The Tikkurila Church and Housing by OOPEAA in Vantaa, Finland, looks at the idea of a multifunctional complex, as a form making exercise. OOPEAA’s philosophy looks for inspiration in the state of being in between, such as in between urban and rural. The practice concentrates on creating spaces for people and life, an aspect that is visible in this project. The structure plugs into an existing city block with a complex that includes a church with a café, meeting spaces for the community as well as offices. It is accompanied by an adjoining apartment building offering student housing and affordable rental apartments with shared facilities and retail space.

Diagram explaining scale and functions | Tikkurila Church and Housing by Oopeaa | STIRworld
Diagram explaining scale and functions Image: Courtesy of OOPEAA

With the multi-coloured brick façade and strong sculptural form, the complex is in dialogue with the surrounding buildings. The local context predominantly features brick buildings. The new church building was designed to blend in materialistically while standing out in its form. It is also built to stand for 200 years. The new multifunctional complex was built to meet both the service provision and social needs of the entire community. It houses three functions in a single volume: the southeast corner and southern extension contain the Tikkurila Bethania Housing block. The north-facing section across from Vantaa’s city hall houses the parish offices.

View of the Tikkurila Church and Housing complex integrating into the existing city block | Tikkurila Church and Housing by Oopeaa | STIRworld
View of the Tikkurila Church and Housing complex integrating into the existing city block Image: Hannu Rytky

The complex is located on the corner of what is one of the fastest-growing and ethnically diverse areas in the metropolitan region of Helsinki. Situated in the vicinity of the main airport, Tikkurila is a major hub for connective traffic and is a growing centre of industry and business. Located in the main town square and opposite the town hall, the church and the housing complex is part of the densification of downtown Tikkurila in an attempt to transform the area. It is an interesting approach on an urban scale to accommodate a larger range of functions with a city block. Recent urban planning proposals such as Obel Award laureate Professor Carlos Moreno’s 15-minute city, proposes a similar idea of closed and manageable densities.

VFloor plans of Tikkurila Church and Housing complex |  Tikkurila Church and Housing by Oopeaa | STIRworld
Floor plans of Tikkurila Church and Housing complex Image: Courtesy of OOPEAA

The scale and volume of the block incorporate a variation within its massing. With a series of steep angled pitched roofs and a glazed burnt brick, the materiality of the building is an important identifier that allows for the church to exhibit its own autonomous identity. The church has carefully framed views that open out towards the surrounding cityscape. The inward-facing openings look out to the interior courtyard and the green roofs of the office wing is attached to the church. Located on the northeast corner, the church connects the housing wing and office wing. It is an interesting metaphor about the potential of religious architecture to act as a connector. The design of the church itself allows for a range of activities and seats a maximum of 500 people. It is possible to divide the space so that multiple simultaneous activities can take place. The office building provides a workspace for approximately 140 employees and offers several meeting spaces of various sizes to serve the community. The church building is fitted with roof gardens and solar panels.

Variation in the facade profile of the structure |  Tikkurila Church and Housing by Oopeaa | STIRworld
Variation in the facade profile of the structure Image: Marc Goodwin, Hannu Rytky

The roofscape of the apartment building allows for the design to incorporate duplex units on the upper floors. The apartments range in size from studios to family apartments, with a total of 244 apartments in the complex, 162 are student housing and 62 are affordable rental homes. The sense of community is enhanced by incorporating numerous shared utility spaces that are mindful of the total number of occupants. This includes saunas, laundry facilities, gathering spaces, and bike storage. On the ground floor, there are commercial spaces that include retail stores and restaurants.

Juxtaposition of the church entrance and mass |  Tikkurila Church and Housing by Oopeaa | STIRworld
Juxtaposition of the church entrance and mass Image: Marc Goodwin

The personal experience of people was an important starting point for the architecture of the new Tikkurila Church. Ideas relating to the human scale, accessibility, material life cycle and sustainability have formed the axiom of the design. The form and the scale of the building grow and follow these key principles. At the structure’s entrances, the scale is lower, approachable and inviting, after one crosses the threshold, the space grows. This is particularly true in the case of the church. In the choice of materials, longevity played an important role. Burnt brick is the main material used in the exterior. While, in the interiors of the church, concrete and wood create an interesting dynamic. All the chosen materials were selected as they will acquire a patina over time, and in doing so will indicate the structure’s age.

Interiors of the church | Tikkurila Church and Housing by Oopeaa | STIRworld
Interiors of the church Image: Marc Goodwin, Tuomas Uusheimo

The Tikkurila Church and Housing have been included in the shortlist of 40 works competing for the European Contemporary Architecture Mies van der Rohe Award 2022. The Tikkurila Church was granted the Durable Stone Building 2021 Award.

  • Elevation of Tikkurila Church and Housing complex |  Tikkurila Church and Housing by Oopeaa | STIRworld
    Elevation of Tikkurila Church and Housing complex Image: Courtesy of OOPEAA
  • Section of Tikkurila Church and Housing complex |  Tikkurila Church and Housing by Oopeaa | STIRworld
    Section of Tikkurila Church and Housing complex Image: Courtesy of OOPEAA

Project Details

Name: Tikkurila Church and Housing
Location: Tikkurila, Vantaa, Finland
Area: 3500 msq (Church) and 11982 msq (Housing)
Year of completion: 2021
Architect: Anssi Lassila, Oopeaa
Design team: Iida Hedberg, Tuuli Tuohikumpu, Tanja Vallaster, Jari Heikkinen, Liisa Heinonen, Katharina Heidkamp, Lassi Siitonen, Jari Heikkinen, Liisa Heinonen, Silja Ikkelä-Koski, Teemu Leppälä, Karoliina Mäenpää, Lassi Siitonen
Landscape Architecture: Vsu Landscape Architects, Oopeaa
Interiors: Oopeaa, Studio Petra Majantie

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