Korkeasaari Lookout Tower
Situated on a site eighteen meters above sea, with spectacular views of the sea and the city of Helsinki, the tower is a delicately transparent landmark of Korkeasaari Island.
Established in 1889 Helsinki's Korkeasaari Zoo, located on
Korkeasaari Island, has animals from Finland and around the world
housed in large natural enclosures.
The competition for the design of the ten-meter-high timber tower, presented to students of architecture at Helsinki University of Technology, was organized by the Korkeasaari Zoo in collaboration with Wood Focus Finland.
The load bearing structure consists of 72 long battens, with a section of 60mmx60mm, that are bent and twisted on the site from seven pre-bent types. Over 600 bolted joints hold the shell structure together.
Having no weather protection the wood is treated with a linen oil-based wood balm with UV-protection.
When the drawing of the irregular form proved difficult Hara moulded a plastoline model. Digital images of the model then functioned as a basis for the AutoCAD drawings.
Using the level drawings he constructed a 3D-computer model onto which he "taped" the curved battens to form the grid shell.
To test if the pre-bent battens, that form the basket-like grid shell, tolerated bending and twisting Hara laminated full-scale pieces of the battens. When the laminated timber resisted twisting he resorted to steaming, a traditional method in boat building.
The tower was erected by an international group of eight
students of architecture. With the hot, sunny summer drying up the
timber, the duct pipes that were used for steaming proved useful.
It took us three months to complete the job.
The Helsinki University of Technology Wood Studio workshop was started by Professor Jan Söderlund in 1994. The course was aimed to contrast the rather pragmatic building technology courses. It is characterised by innovation and artistic approach. The students are selected by an annual student competition and half of them are foreigners.
The department of Architecture now has a new professorship for wood architecture with Professor Georg Grotenfelt running the Wood Studio course.
Facts about Korkeasaari Lookout Tower
82 square meters
PWD (Helsinki City Public Works Department)
HUT Wood Studio/ Ville Hara, architect, SAFA
DI Hannu Hirsi, DI Lauri salokangas /Nuvo Engineering
Ville Hara (born 1974), architect, SAFA
Studied in Finland at Helsinki University of technology and in France at Ecole d'Architecture Paris-Belleville, graduated 2002. Has worked in France, Croatia and Germany (Sauerbruch Hutton Architects), 1999- at SARC Architects Ltd. From 2004 own office Avanto Architects with Anu Puustinen and teacher at HUT.
Nomination for Mies van der Rohe Price 2003; Archiprix 2003: nominated for Hunter Douglas award, participants' favourite; Wuorio Price 2003; Ar+d Emerging Architecture Price 2003
Competitions: Das Neue Berlin 2nd prize 1999, HUT Department of Architecture Wood Studio competition 2nd prize 1999, 1st prize 2000, Funerary chapel competition Vantaa, Finland 1st prize 2003 (with Anu Puustinen)
Various positions of trust: architecture students' guild, HUT students union, the Finnish Association of Architects, The Museum of Finnish Architecture.
Last updated: December 19, 2013
New York, New York, USA