The 2022 Wood Award goes to the ceiling of Helsinki Airport’s entrance hall

Arkkitehtoimisto ALA Oy is behind the architectural design for the entrance hall to the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. The award winner was announced at Puupäivä (Wood Day) on November 3, 2022 in Helsinki.

Photograph: Tuomas Uusheimo

The jury issued the following statement:

The ceiling of the departure hall and entrance at the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport is a masterful display of how to use wood. The architecture fosters a uniquely calming atmosphere in a hectic environment. Spanning multiple levels, the ridged ceiling extends out over the entrance to create a canopy. The wood elements break up what would otherwise be a steel gray industrial environment by reintroducing natural elements. The entrance canopy serves as an important calling card for those travelling to and from Finland.

The winner of this year’s Wood Award exudes the spirit of everyone involved in its creation – from designers and builders to the client. The resolute vision of the architect played an important role in the end result, and the wood component supplier’s dedication is apparent in the structure’s superior quality and beauty. Staying within the budget, the project used an alliance model to quickly drive construction to completion.

For passengers arriving to catch a flight, the entrance canopy is an impressive revelation. The building’s architecture places the majority of the functional aspects at ground level where the wooden ceiling both sets the boundaries for the space and serves as its strongest and most recognisable visual element. The free-form shape of the ceiling varies in thickness and appears to materialise in thin air from wooden boards stacked on top of each other. The load-bearing pillars that enable the gravity-defying floating effect are hidden behind a glass wall, which cuts into the wooden underside of the ceiling in a sophisticated and polished manner.

The workmanship apparent in the free-form structure is a fine example of how even large complexes can be built with the precision seen in hand-crafted furniture. Prefabricated elements made it possible to turn the technically very challenging ensemble from vision to reality. More than 500 individual elements were used to create the ceiling. Visually, the ceiling has a unified feel due to the uncompromising finishing and uniform surface treatment. The sturdy wooden elements are attached to the ceiling with tie rods at four points. This also helps maintenance personnel, as these structures can handle their weight in addition to the weight of the structure.

The following partners were involved in the winning work:

  • Architectural design: Arkkitehtitoimisto ALA Oy, chief designer architect SAFA Juho Grönholm
  • Developer/Client: Finavia, project manager Martti Nurminen
  • Structural design, the entire project: Ramboll Finland Oy, director Pekka Ahola, project manager Pekka Turunen, project manager Antti Pekkala
  • Structural design, wooden ceiling: A-Insinöörit Oy, unit manager Jukka Oja-Lipasti
  • Contractor: SRV Rakennus Oy, unit manager Ossi Inkilä, site manager Jukka Nikkola
  • Wood component supplier: Raision puusepät, CEO Jarmo Yrjölä

Pikku Finlandia receives an honourable mention

The jury also awarded Pikku-Finlandia (Little Finlandia) an honourable mention. Located in the Töölönlahti area of Helsinki, this building was designed by architects Jaakko Torvinen, Elli Wendel, and Havu Järvelä in collaboration with architect, professor Pekka Heikkinen and Arkkitehdit NRT Oy.

Pikku-Finlandia also won the annual people’s choice vote, receiving 17 percent of the votes.

Photograph: Mikael Linden

The jury issued the following statement:

The wooden Pikku-Finlandia serves Finlandia Hall’s customers as a temporary meeting and event space while Finlandia Hall is under renovation. The building can be reconfigured and is portable, which allows it to be used as a school or kindergarten in future. Responding to the requirements specified by the client, a student project at Aalto University’s Department of Architecture served as the basis for the ultimate proposal. The end result speaks to the sheer talent of both the authors of the winning proposal and their supervisors, with the young architects driving the project to completion with their commitment and enthusiasm.

The building showcases responsible construction and environmental stewardship in a truly thorough fashion, representing the vision of its creators. The entire project followed the principles of the circular economy: the design and construction of the building enable it to be dismantled and moved to a new location. The materials and components in the building are reusable and/or recyclable. The superior quality of the construction is apparent in the smallest details, and the combination of different wood products is a success.

The branches left on the wooden frames emphasise their natural, yet sturdy, nature, and simultaneously create a distinctive visual look for the building and serve as a load-bearing structure. Using pillars moulded by nature allows Pikku-Finlandia to echo Finnish forests while also paying homage to the Italian architecture that inspired the design of Finlandia Hall.

Award jury

Puuinfo appointed the jury that selected the winner of the 2022 Wood Award: the members were architect SAFA Henna Helander, president of the Finnish Association of Architects (SAFA), architect SAFA Matti Lakkala, a university teacher at the University of Oulu’s architecture unit, architect SAFA Simon le Roux, wood program specialist at the Ministry of the Environment of Finland, and architect SAFA Karola Sahi, a lecturer at the Department of Architecture at Aalto University.

The submissions for 2022

The Wood Award competition received 33 submissions by the deadline, from which the preliminary jury selected 11 nominations for the prize and for the people’s choice award. The proposals represent very high quality architecture and broad-based use of wood in construction. The jury considered the quality of all proposals to be very high.

For more information, contact:

Project manager Hilppa Iittiläinen, Puuinfo Oy, tel. +358 40 940 1300, hilppa.iittilainen@puuinfo.fi
Partner Juho Grönholm, Arkkitehtoimisto ALA Oy, tel. + 358 40 555 2169, juho.gronholm@ala.fi

Pictures can be downloaded for informational use from: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1nPo6p8N-1bstwansjHT3VMLrSYz1E9Fa?usp=sharing


Background for the 25th Wood Award

The Wood Award is awarded annually as an encouragement for the building, interior design or structure that best represents high quality, Finnish wood architecture or where wood has been used in a manner that improves construction techniques. The Wood Award has been awarded since 1994, and this year’s winner is the award’s 25th recipient. The award is granted by Puuinfo.

In selecting the winner of the Wood Award, the jury pays special attention to the architectural quality of the site, the innovative use of wood and the overall attention attracted by the site.

Previous winners of the Wood Award: