The Wienerberger Brick Award 2014 awarded Hotel and Conferece Centre appears in the surprising look of a delicate lacy garment.

Project details

Reference object

Paasitorni Hotel & Conference Centre, Helsinki, Finland

Architect

K2S Architects

Client

HWA Helsinki Workers Union, Jorma Bergholm

Façade bricks used

Tuohi Retro, modified special brick

Paasitorni Hotel, Helsinki, Finland

Paasitorni Hotel, Helsinki, Finland

Paasitorni Hotel, Helsinki, Finland

Paasitorni Hotel, Helsinki, Finland

Paasitorni Hotel, Helsinki, Finland

Paasitorni Hotel, Helsinki, Finland

Paasitorni Hotel, Helsinki, Finland

Paasitorni Hotel, Helsinki, Finland

Paasitorni Hotel, Helsinki, Finland

Paasitorni Hotel, Helsinki, Finland

Paasitorni Hotel, Helsinki, Finland

Paasitorni Hotel, Helsinki, Finland

Paasitorni Hotel, Helsinki, Finland

Paasitorni Hotel, Helsinki, Finland

Paasitorni Hotel, Helsinki, Finland

Paasitorni Hotel, Helsinki, Finland

Like Woody Allen’s character Leonard Zelig

When an ensemble of structures from various eras is joined by yet another building, one might reasonably wonder which way things will go: will the result be a veritable cacophony of randomness, or might the addition even do an exemplary job of rounding out the now-historic without obscuring the other contributing elements?

Writing about the conversion and expansion of the former Helsinki Workers’ House to a hotel and conference centre, the Finnish magazine ark is reminded of Woody Allen’s character Leonard Zelig: the ensemble, it finds, has the same ability to change its identity without sacrificing its own character. On a more prosaic note, one can say that the original 1908 Karl Lindahl building with its solid granite façades and its subsequent extensions takes up a city block in a U shape, and that with its gently curved extension it has now sidestepped into the inner courtyard. From the street, there are just a few subtle details indicating that something has changed.

Oversized lacework

Only the office building from the 1950s opens up invitingly with a glass façade for the reception, lobby and bar. It is in the rear, courtyard area that one experiences the astounding transformation. Large “light ponds” let into the pavement indicate that the whole site has been used. These glass inserts illuminate the foyer of the conference rooms below. The façade of the extension lofts upwards in a similarly organic shape. Consisting of ivory-coloured bricks, it resembles oversized lacework. The curvy wing sports windows and even balconies, an unusual feature in urban hotels. The perforated envelope in front of the closed exterior wall acts as a screen, projecting shimmering plays of light into the rooms during the day and glowing like a lantern at night. Loggia-like openings unapologetically break the lacelike façade.
 
The white perforated bricks with their distinctive configuration were specially made. They are fixed with bars and steel cramps. Most of the surrounding structures are made of brick.
 
“We felt,” say the architects, “that that was just the right, long-lived material for the new wing. We chose colour and texture in such a way that the brick harmonises with the neighbouring buildings.”

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