Publicly Accessible Buildings

Masslab wins first prize in Helsinki

Finnish company clinches top spot for new urban development

by Staff writer 15 February 2023

Masslab + AFRY Ark Studio won the Finnish Train Factory Mixed-Use Competition for the development of a new urban landmark for the Pasila machine shop area in Helsinki.

The proposal was selected from among five entries in an international competition that took place in two separate selection phases, hosted by the Train Factory Group and Helsinki Municipality. 

The former electric train building was transformed into a 45,000 sqm office, retail, and hotel building and reimagined as a part of the social, commercial, and cultural hub in historical heritage.

The winning proposal sought to create a building born out of the needs of the population. “It doesn’t impose itself as a normal building but as a system of uses, actions and habits. The entire street level is organised around an organic vaulted ceiling that invites you in,” said a spokesperson for Masslab.

“The design went above and beyond to materialise an apparently impossible proposal. Opting for an unconventional form permitted a cost-efficient building, suited for ever changing needs.”

The wood at ground level, part of the Finnish ethos, invites citizens to move and participate in urban life. The brick is a continuous dialogue with the surroundings. Its glass top it dissolves the building into the landscape of Helsinki. 

“Reimagining landscape and cityscape as one offers a step forward as we try to reinvent social norms and daily life,” added Masslab.

Based on previous successful partnerships between the studios, the team led by Masslab ensured creative experience, as well as the necessary local insights and technical expertise from AFRY Ark Studio, to deliver a contemporary and fresh approach to the project.

Among the competition entries were other top architectural offices worldwide like Cobe + Schauman & Nordgren Architects, Architects Lahdelma & Mahlamäki; Architects Rudanko + Kankkunen, and Tommila Architects & Kaleidoscope Architectural & Urban Design.

The vision for the Train Factory will enhance and build upon the rich cultural heritage of the area, which hosts historical buildings and large public spaces. 

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