The new cafe at Hietaranta is a small but very visible fixed point on Helsinki’s most popular swimming beach. It is set in a wideopen landscape with views that reach far out to sea from the long sandy beach, towards Seurasaari and Espoo.
The parameters for this building are somewhat contradictory: a small building in a large open environment. The problem has been resolved by making the beach building look larger than it really is. As its name implies, the round building is in two parts: the café building and the changing room building. Between them is a terraced open-air space with beautiful sea views.
The external wooden framework of the circular building is painted pale grey and the space between is a warm red. The end result can suggest a variety of ideas. For instance, the dressing-room wing looks like a beached ship, but on the other hand, the two-part circular form brings to mind the image of a mushroom that has been cut in half – especially so during the autumn.
The site, the sandy beach edged by a verdant park area, suggested the use of timber construction. The floor and roof structure, and the beams over the external spaces are in laminated timber and LVL (laminated veneer lumber), while the terrace floor is in grooved, heat-treated boarding.
The curved elevation is clad in sawn laminated panels of spruce. These panels are 28 mm thick, 250 mm high and 12 metres long. They were bent on site to a radius of 18 metres and the joints were reinforced with dowels. The 600 x 2100 laminated panels forming the straight walls are painted in terracotta.
The gross area of the building is 750 m² and the volume 3,000 m³.
An architectural competition was organised for the café in 2000. Because of objections to the town plan, the building was not completed until 2011.
The new café is open all year round.
Project in brief
Katamaraani, Beach Cafe and Changing Room
- Location | Hietalahti, Helsinki
- Purpose | Beach Cafe and Changing Room
- Constructor/Client | Helsinki Public Works Department - Construction Management and City of Helsinki Sports Department
- Architectural Design | Olli Pekka Jokela Architects Ltd
- Structural design | Pöyry Finland Oy
- Pääurakoitsija | ATL-Rakennushuolto Oy
- Photographs | Kimmo Räisänen
- Text | Olli-Pekka Jokela