Slab, point-access
Kairamo, Krkki & Maritta Nylen | Espoo, Westend, (Helsinki), Finland | 1983
Image of Hiiralanka...
South facade.

ArchitectKairamo, Krkki & Maritta Nylen
CityEspoo, Westend, (Helsinki)
Building TypeSlab, point-access
Number of Dwellings0
Date Built1983
Dwelling Types2,3,& 4 br. flats
No. Floors3
Section Typeflats
Exterior Finish
pre-cast concrete, steel balconies & solariums, ceramic tile, glass
Construction TypeR-C frame & pre-cast conc. panels
Ancillary Servicestenant saces in part of ground floor

This long block of apartments, built in a quiet residential part of Westend, is an apartment version of Kairamo's duplexes built on Liinasaarenkuja, just a short distance away the previous year. As with Liinasaarenkuja, a highly articulated brise-soleil of balconies, and solariums has been applied to the south side of a very unarticulated block made of pre-cast concrete panels. While the 1982 duplexes were free-standing buildings and as such were viewed more three-dimensionally, this exaggerated difference between the pre-fab box and the applied elements is common to both.

Like most Finnish apartment buildings, this is a point access type with five entrances serving nine dwellings per floor, a total of thirty three dwellings, that vary in size from two to four bedrooms. This long block is built on a terrace that sets back from the street and an open parking area on the south. The terrace is several feet higher than the parking and thus provides privacy for the ground floor dwellings. The building steps in height along its length from 3 to four floors and, at mid-building, there is a public passageway through the building to the parking area behind. There is parking at the rear and garages at grade along the north side of the building. The apartments are planned with a large room on the south, which is a combined kitchen, living, dining, and a zone of small bedrooms along the north side. The living area takes up the full width of the module. A separate block of service spaces separates the two zones. This module contains the bathroom and sauna. Most of the dwellings are similar and the modular characteristics of the pre-fabricated panel construction is clearly evident. Slightly different dwellings are placed at each end to avoid the blank ends typical to the zeilenbau slab.

The main mass of the slab is rendered as a minimalist functionalist apartment block with strip windows, flat roof, articulated entrances and vertical stair halls on the north. On the south facade a structure of balconies, glazed solariums, trellises, vertical lattices, railings, and planters is attached to the building; a brise-soleil of architectonic accessories and spaces that qualify and enhance the south-facing living spaces. The basic module of the pre-cast panel system that it used on the main building is also used for the brise-soleil, however, secondary and overlapping divisions and variations in height, width and composition all reinforce the reading of a complex, concatenated independent element. The pre-cast panels on the main building are covered with small ceramic tiles while the vertical structure of the balcony structure is left painted concrete. This fact coupled with the elaborate steel, frosted glass, and wood accessories which are coded with different colors all aid in the perception of a different, independent element. The zone of the south terrace, which includes a concrete block retaining wall, steel railings and several blue steel stairs may be seen as an extended part of the brise-soleil mechanism. The practical benefits of passive solar heating, sunny terraces and private outdoor space are obvious. In addition the deadly "monotony of elements" typical to panel construction has been greatly qualified, at least on the south facade.

Marja-Riitta Norri (ed), An Architectural Present-7 Approaches, (exhibit catalogue), , Museum of Finnish Architecture, Helsinki, 1992, p.28.

Arvi Ilonen, Helsinki, An Architectural Guide, Otava, Helsinki, 1992, p. 158.

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