Väre wins Aalto University’s Campus 2015 architectural design competition

A winner has been declared for the open international architectural design competition Campus 2015, arranged by Aalto University Properties Ltd in Finland. The competition jury selected the entry Väre, designed by the Finnish firm Verstas Architects and its team of architects, Väinö Nikkilä, Jussi Palva, Riina Palva and Ilkka Salminen, as the first prize winner. According to the jury, this scheme most successfully solved the challenges and conflicting demands of the competition. The results were announced at the Aalto University Otaniemi campus in Espoo, Finland today.

Second prize was awarded to the entry 492700 Leap, designed by Esa Ruskeepää Architects Ltd from Finland. The entry had a number of very strong and laudable qualities and it was in close competition with the winner all the way until the end. Third prize was awarded to the entry stay strong sweetie by Luís Martínez Santa-María from Spain.

In addition, the jury decided to purchase three entries and grant six honourable mentions. Please see below for details on the teams who won the awards.

The aim of the Campus 2015 competition was to design a new core campus for Aalto University in Otaniemi, Finland, and the competition process was arranged in two phases.

The 1st phase attracted 189 entries. Six of these entries were chosen for the second phase, the goal of which was to create a unique solution and a usable learning environment for the new building and its immediate surroundings. The quality of the architecture as well as cost efficiency and ecological sustainability were among the assessment criteria.

The jury describes the winner, Väre, as a strong and convincing entry, which has been developed positively and has managed to answer most of the queries posed by the jury after the results from the first phase of the competition. The layout offers its own structural DNA matrix as the organising principle for the new buildings; it forms this pattern based on two of the principal coordinates taken from the nearby old main building of the former Helsinki University of Technology and the main library, which were designed by Alvar Aalto.

According to the jury, the winner’s approach is fresh: the simple basic module produces a convincing variety of spatial arrangements, and it is adaptable and flexible but with a clear and distinct architectural character. The spatial concept has also found a fitting form, in which users move from the general public areas upwards towards more private and intimate places or from interdisciplinary to more specialised activities, a mode of operation completely in tune with the expressed aims of the university.

The entry was also one of the entries with the most energy-effective and economic potential during the 2nd phase of the competition.

Dean Helena Hyvönen, chairperson of the competition jury, explains:

“I am pleased to say that the quality of the competition was very high. We had hoped for designs that inspire studying and working in the area. The jury expects this winning entry to set a new standard for future university learning environments, not only in Finland but also within the international arena.”

President Tuula Teeri from Aalto University, says:

“We are a new university and we want to pay respect to the originality of all of our founding schools as we build our central campus in Otaniemi. The winning entry reflects well our shared values and respects the existing environment, while it also has a clear vision of what the future university will look like.”

The new building and its surroundings are examined as part of the university’s broader campus programme, whose goal is to strengthen the operational preconditions for research, artistic activity and teaching.


  • First prize: Väre by Verstas Architects Ltd, Helsinki, Finland
  • / Väinö Nikkilä, Jussi Palva, Architect M.Sc. SAFA, Riina Palva, Architect M.Sc. SAFA and Ilkka Salminen, Architect M.Sc. SAFA with assistants and specialists.
  • Second prize: 492700 Leap by Esa Ruskeepää Architects Ltd, Helsinki, Finland
  • Third prize: stay strong sweetie by Luis Martínez Santa-María, Madrid, Spain

The purchased entries

  • 1st purchase: AINOA by Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects, Helsinki, Finland
  • 2nd purchase: HIPSTERKASBAH by ALA Architects, Helsinki, Finland
  • 3rd purchase: NOLLI by Allies and Morrison Architects, London, United Kingdom

Honourable mentions

  • The Butterfly Effect by ma0 / emmeazero studio d´architectura, Rome, Italy
  • ARTery by PO 2 ARCHITECTS, Madrid, Spain
  • TAHBAJP by MOXON ARCHITECTS, London, United Kingdom
  • A* by Tuomo Siitonen, Helsinki, Finland
  • 0073 by OOZE Architects, Rotterdam, Netherlands
  • STUDIO CLOUD by Manuel David Romero Rodriguez, Salamanca, Spain