Käpylän Posteljooni

Helsinki, Finland
Anttinen Oiva Architects

Käpylän Posteljooni

Relaxedy modern


The apartment building designed by Anttinen Oiva Arkkitehdit for Helsinki’s Käpylä neighbourhood is both grounded in its context and a clear departure from it. On the site where previously the post office stood, Selina Anttinen, Vesa Oiva and their team have created a highly original building. The new complex is the latest addition to a district which was originally built in the 1920s as a garden city, with gorgeous wooden houses in a green setting. The idyllic neighbourhood changed in the 1950s without losing its distinct character, when it became Olympic Village for the 1952 Games. To temporarily house athletes, new apartment buildings were constructed, which after the event were added to the city’s housing stock. These Olympic apartment buildings introduced a new approach to the neighbourhood, merging the modern principles of open planning with a relatively traditional architectural form. Typical for this architecture is the light stucco facades with regular patterns of small windows and pitched roofs.

The new building, Käpylän Posteljooni, which contains 57 apartments, ranging in size from 30 to 120 square metres, takes cues from this moderate modernism and brings it to another level. The building has two faces. On one side, the new U-shaped building is relatively closed. This side, which is facing a relatively busy roundabout is referencing the surrounding early postwar architecture, with its pitched roofs, and stucco facades punctured by identical windows. In contrast to this intentional inscrutability, within the U-shape the building is much more transparent. On this side, the apartments look out over a collective courtyard, designed by MASU Planning, and a more quiet street.

The courtyard facade consists of large glass panels from floor to ceiling and screens of white ceramic louvres, made out of terra-cotta baguettes, manufactured by AGROB BUCHTAL. Behind this facade, wintergarden-like galleries lead to the front doors of the apartments. Where the outside of the U-shape suggests an anonymous unassumingness, the interior side opens up, and reveals the relaxed character of this architecture, shifting from a massiveness to an almost ephemeral lightness. While ceramics are not often associated with lightness, their effect here is one of an intriguing ethereality.

Photographer: Michael Staller