Lapinlahti Hospital renovation and extension competition

The City of Helsinki held a competition for finding use, users and a renovation & extension concept for the historically valuable Lapinlahti Hospital area in Central Helsinki.

Planetary Architecture designed a carbon neutral vertical park construction for the Y-Säätiö’s competition entry. This modular timber construction was designed to create a new concept for mixing open public functions with supported housing and to produce more energy, oxygen and food than it uses.

The task in the larger context

An idea competition for the Lapinlahti hospital was organised to find a new purpose of use and owner for the buildings in the area. Lapinlahti Hospital, completed in 1841, is the oldest psychiatric hospital in Finland. Both the main building designed by C. L. Engel and the surrounding park are protected. The park is to remain in the ownership of the City and it will be kept as a public area.

Our solution

Our part of the competition was to design a new building including housing and public facilities in a historical park that obviously needs not be made any smaller or is asking for a modern infill on any level. Our approach was to take both the future bicycle route to Espoo and the noise of the surrounding traffic and turn these into the core features of the design.

As the bicycle path will take over one part of the park anyways it was natural to place the building on top of that path – as much of the charm of the existing park has to do with its calming appearance in the core of the buzzling city it was natural to turn the new structure into a noise barrier against the considerable noise of the neighboring routes.

The aim of the design was to add greenery in the park and to look far in the possibilities of the future using a functionally flexible timber framework. The frame could also work to support the construction work leaving the sensitive ground surfaces nearly untouched.

The greenery was integrated in the framework both in multiple ways using roof gardens, multiple techniques of closed circuit agriculture on the facades and roofs of the structure. The southern side of the building was protected from overheat using wild wines and algae based oxygen producing façade products.

The entry was chosen as one of the two projects to continue to the second round of the competition. Once the entry was finished it was not handed in by a decision of our client.

The organizers of the competition and the client did not end up agreeing on the cost of the existing hospital.

Project team

Pekka Pakkanen, Simon Mahringer, Benjamin Schulman, Antti Mikola.
Livady Architects designed the renovations of the historical buildings. Kimmo Rönkä worked as a project manager for the whole