o p u s



Location: Helsinki, Finland

Year: 2018

Status: Competition. 2nd prize.

Program: Housing

Client: The Governing Body of Suomenlinna, City of Helsinki

Area: 920 m2


In collaboration with architect Matti Wäre.


The city of Helsinki organized an international open competition for the replacement of two temporary single-storey housing units on the island of Länsi-Mustasaari within the historically significant Suomenlinna Fortress, a UNESCO world heritage site. The competition brief asked for solutions that would keep the shores of the island within the public sphere while also finding a way to place a new structure within the island in a respectful and meaningful manner. The neighbours on the site are articulated as objects on an island, weathering and gaining patina under the pressures of the maritime climate.


The proposed design is a four-storey housing unit. The specific qualities of a compact tower-like volume has obvious advantages on a building site of limited size. A small footprint enables minimal use of land on the shore. Multiple storeys enable the possibility of moving the private living functions above the ground floor, creating a public yard and shoreline.  The volume maximizes views from the building as well as past the building.


The new unit becomes one with the family of objects on the island. The structural solution is, as with the old barracks, massive brick construction. The size of the structure corresponds to the larger buildings on the island. Between the systematic rhythm of the barracks and the organically placed openings of the old bakery building, the perfect grid of fenestration finds its place. The new building will age and weather in harmony with the surrounding old structures, slowly merging with each other, continuing the sense of timelessness on the island.