The Allas Sea Pool is located close to the Kauppatori marketplace, right in the centre of the city. This combined pool and cultural centre is a large-scale sculpture in spruce that uses its shape to partition the vast views of the city and sea into pleasant recesses for the building’s different activities.
The creation of the Allas Sea Pool complex has been an exceptionally long journey that has ventured out onto the sea and into an area where building has previously been restricted. The journey required temporary building permits and their associated application processes, phased construction due to the project’s crowdfunding-based funding rounds, the coordination of the different design groups and contractors working on the various phases, and modification processes as the building’s various functions took on their final shapes.
The complex – consisting of a floating pool section, shore-side activity areas and roof-top terraces, a Baltic Sea Centre, a café, a restaurant, a sauna and a maintenance section – was only meant to be temporary. When the work was commissioned, wood was the construction material of choice because of the intended temporary character of the structure and the nature of the project. We felt that the use of wood in the very heart of the city, on one of the most prominent properties in the country, required architecture that had a clear vision and uncomplicated details to support its expression. All wood surfaces in the building are tinted or weather-treated spruce. The tinting sought a unified look where, viewed from indoors, the external spaces would all seem part of the same continuum. To keep things on a more humane scale, the public façade has been partitioned into a palette of wood grids that shimmer in the refracting light of the activities in the background.
The building’s shape was intended to be clearly recognizable – a public building that provides protection from sea winds and displays selected views of the sea and the city. The shape was to descend to greet visitors and lead them along the roof terrace up towards the sky and the open sea. The site has a long uninterrupted vista of the southern horizon, and the design stretches out towards this magic point, with open views from every steam room. The café terrace looks to the west towards Eteläsatama (South Harbour), creating a new shielded lookout point that is perfect for eying passing ships, city life and Helsinki’s familiar seaside silhouette.
The floating pool area has two 25-metre swimming pools: one heated and the other filled with clean, filtered seawater. There is also a traditional heated pool for children. In addition to the sweeping views of the city and the sea, the location offers a unique opportunity to swim under the heavens, in front of the Presidential Palace while cruise ships and the Suomenlinna ferry glide by.
Project in brief
Allas Sea Pool
- Location | Katajanokka, Helsinki
- Purpose | Sea pool and city culture centre
- Constructor/Client | Helsinki Allas Oy
- Architectural Design | Huttunen-Lipasti-Pakkanen Architects
- Structural design | Draft phase: Pontek Oy; 1st and 2nd phase: Insinööritoimisto Pekka Korkeila; 3rd phase: Insinööritoimisto Oulun Talorakenne
- Contractor | 1st phase: E.M. Pekkinen Oy; 2nd phase: Koiviston Rakennuspalvelu Oy; 3rd phase: Rakennusliike Lehto Oy
- Interior design | Elisa Korpijärvi
- Volume | 5 860 m3
- Floor area | 1 200 m2
- Total area | 2 060 m2
- Year completed | 2017
- Photographs | Marko Huttunen
- Text | Pekka Pakkanen