During the past ten years, the former campus of the Technical University of Helsinki underwent extensive development and expansion, including a new education program and a new metro connection west of the amphitheatre. The light traffic routes throughout the campus drastically changed with the opening of the new metro station. Students, employees and visitors walked on unplanned dirt trails around the campus, reflecting an inadequate path network and ruining the appearance of the iconic campus park. This provided the opportunity to rethink the path system, improve universal accessibility, and add new programs while protecting and acknowledging the cultural heritage.
The overall design strives to preserve Aalto’s original ideas and to secure the site’s cultural heritage values while updating the area to meet the demands of a modern campus. To achieve this goal, MASU Planning conducted the project through close dialogue with Museovirasto, Aalto Foundation, and the university, ensuring the protection of cultural heritage.
Each design element and solution has been adjusted through dialogue, finding the right balance between continuing the original and allowing new elements to stand out as clear additions.
At Aalto University Campus, an iconic group of old Linden trees, surrounded by heavy traffic, suffered from tree rot and, unfortunately, had to be cut down. While we planted new Linden saplings for future generations as part of the plan for the area renewal, these precious trees find new life as decaying wood art, enriching the site’s biodiversity.
After cutting down the trees, parts of the trunks rise as sculptures on wooden posts, marking the old Lindens’ cycle end, preserving historical layers, and making a tribute to the valuable, central trees of the new and old campus area. This action takes an entirely new layer in the area, where the landscape, which transforms over time, reflects the beauty and impermanence of nature. It’s like watching an art piece come to life, shifting, and evolving along the seasons and years.
This unique transformation of the Aalto University Campus adds a meaningful touch to the ongoing evolution of the campus landscape and its surroundings.
Landscape Architecture: MASU Planning
Other companies involved in the project: Engineers: Ramboll
Client: Aalto University
Project location: Espoo, Finland
Year completed: 2022
Photo credits: Mikko Raskinen, Mika Huisman & MASU Planning