Apartment house in Tampere, Finland, 2019

As. Oy Säilänportti – Replacement of and existing building
The purpose of this text is to clarify the reasons of the proposal of demolishing an existing apartment building and replacing it with a new one, as well as to describe the architectural solution of the new proposed building.

Existing building
The existing apartment house at 1 Tuomiokirkonkatu, Tampere, is built in 1971 of prefabricated concrete elements. The building has 30 apartments on 6 floors, a common sauna complex on the seventh floor and storage spaces in the basement.

It is surrounded by historic buildings which strongly represent the typolgy and character of the architecture of Tampere.
The loadbearing structure and facades are in satisfactory condition due to continuos and thorough maintenance. The facades have been cleaned and joints refilled several times. All windows have been replaced in 2014.

Entire roof cover of the flat roof have been replaced 15 years ago. Regular inspection has revealed, taht a mino rintervention in order to prevent leakage is needed immediately, but the entire water proofing system of the roof has to be removed and reconstructed within the next 4-5 years.
Heating-, water and sewerage pipes inside the building, as well as the entire electrical installation are approaching the end of their life cycle. Preliminary cost estimation of replacing the above mentioned communication is about 1000 EUR/m². In addition to that one has to consider the constant need of repairing the water protection membranes on the roof.

In addition to relatively high expluatation costs, the building behaves extremely poorly in terms of its contribution to surrounding urban environment.
It is not the aim of this text to emphasize the shortcomings of existing building, but one can easily notice the following inefficiencies as important factors leading to decisions which will be described further on.

The existing building does not respect the historic and logical fabric of buildings’ footprints inside the block and so destroys the continuous street front.

It steps back from the plot line leaving a narrow green area to its north and undefined partly raised terrace as parking area to its south, failing to define the border between public and private realm.

Unlikely most of its historic neighbours in the area, the building has no commercial space on its ground floor. Its blind ground floor walls cannot contribute to the variety of the urban environment around it and safeguard its immediate vicinity.

The building has no recongnizable main facade nor an entrance, hence it lacks the respect both towards its inhabitants and towards the public.

It has no architectural, artistic or aesthetic value of whatsoever.

Its inherently modernistic design creates an unnecessary conflict between itself and its neighbours.

Radical intervention
Those inescapable necessities calling for increasing maintenace costs, inadequate performance and contribution to its surroundings, along with a growing demand of new apartments in central Tampere, have lead to a decision to demolish the existing house and replace it with a new bigger apartment house, which would better meet all today’s standards.
Economic calculations upon which such a decision is based, have been composed by the landlord and will be presented separately.

Design of the new apartment house is based on following preconditions:

  • the new house has to perform better in terms of maintenance costs, including both cost for heating, ventilation and lighting as well as other regular maintenance costs of the building;
  • the new house has to blend into the surrounding urban fabric and not to create contrast between itself and its neighbours;
  • the new house has to strenghten the characteristics of Tampere and not alienate from them;
  • the new house has to respect and dignify its surroundings, its residents and the residents of Tampere;
  • the psychological impact that the new house will have upon citizens mental health, must be reassuring, calming and uplifting;
  • the new house has to be cost effective and the real estate has to hold its value in the future.

The new house
This proposal is based on the assumption, that the best design rests on the time tested solutions of a specific place and combines them with all the requirements and amenities of modern life. Therefore a traditional architectural language is preffered. The choice of traditional architectural architecture rests on all previously mentioned preconditions and scientific research which demonstrates the stress reducing and healing effects of traditional aesthetics on human beings (G.Alfven „Ohälsosam arkitektur“, 2016).
The proposal departs from the peripheral planning where facades of the building stand on the property line and form a courtyard inside a block.
As the the length of the plot along Tuomiokirkonkatu is rather long – it exceeds 40 m – the building has been visually divided into three volumes. Each of these volumes reads as a separate entity with slightly different architectural character.

Part A is the most elaborate and commercial part of the three, facing Lapintie. It departs from its 1920-s neighbour at 18 Lapintie, mimics the rusticated base, vertical shop windows and a cornice under the top floor of the latter and takes all these elements closer to the intersection with Tuomiokirkonkatu and the down-town. The rounded corner emphasizes the intersection of two important streets and provides access into commercial space on the ground floor. It has three entrances to commercial spaces and an entrance into stairhall A.

Part B as the southern section of the volume along Tuomiokirkonkatu and western end of the plot’s southern side, conveys slightly more romantic and even a jugend-like character in order to respect its immediate neighbour across the Sukkavartaankatu -a delightful greenish Tuomisen Kivimuuri. It has one commercial entrance facing the intersection and entrance into the sairhall B.

Part C is the smallest part of the new building, facing south at the Sukkavartaankatu. It has two storeys less than its western neighbour and it provides a passage through a covered staircase into a raised courtyard. As the lowest point of the street level around the plot is on the corner of Sukkavartaankatu and Tuomiokirkonkatu, the entrance into underground car park has been located on the Sukkavartaankatu but moved away from a street corner for the reasons of traffic safety and hierarchy between the entrances into the building, i.e. into a commercial space with its entrance at the corner and an entrance into the stairhall C.
The inner courtyard has its lower part at the same level with the access from Lapintie and entrances to sauna and bicycle storages. Above them is a roof terrace with direct acces from all second floor apartents surrounding it. Apartments on the third floor and higher up have balconies facing the inner courtyard. Some apartments have small or french balconies facing the streets. Each block has an elevator and a direct access into the basement.
The building has rendered / plastered facades, a tin roof and wooden doors and windows.

©2015 Arhitektibüroo Allan Strus OÜ

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