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Bringing Back the Social into the Cities

Jyväskylä, Finland
Scales of transformation
1 of 13
Scales of transformation
Aleksandra Zarek

Under the title Transformation of the Kortepohja Student Village (Jyväskylä, FI) was carried out.

A holistic approach to urban transformations as a basis for socially-informed evolution of cities, increased quality of life and sustainable urban revival.

Many European cities are faced with the problem of adapting their dated building stock to current living standards. This can create a potential stimulus for improving the overall social cohesion in

urban areas. However, isolated refurbishments at a scale of single buildings do not always guarantee such contextual regeneration.

This transformation proposal for the Kortepohja Student Village in Jyväskylä (FI) addresses the challenge of improving the quality of urban living through rejuvenating the existing building stock

while embedding a holistic approach at a variety of scales to reestablish urban areas as social platforms. The project is based on three interlocking scales, which form the framework for a comprehensive, socially-focused revival: a development plan for Kortepohja, a masterplan for the Student Village and a detailed retrofit of the central student social hub - Rentukka.

The goal is to show how transformation can be used as a holistic tool in consolidating circulation, functionality and visual perception in urban areas, reestablishing them as social platforms. The project

hopes to address the Village’s presence in the context of Kortepohja and Jyväskylä.

The heritage status of the modernist core’s facades of the Village entailed a thoughtful approach, respectful of the original design by Erkki Kantonen. The academically- and design-oriented context of

Jyväskylä, with the University campus designed by Alvar Aalto, provided a strong rationale for this rejuvenation scheme.

Kortepohja District - Development Plan | Scale 1

The interventions of the most holistic scope focus on improving connectivity at the district scale of Kortepohja. This is currently affected by undeveloped sites such as the Rautpohja Bay area. The

reservoir has been encircled with the new recreational infrastructure, which is built upon a timber boardwalk, linking a network of leisure facilities such as a landmark pier. This creates opportunities for the contemplation of the scenic environment.

Kortepohja Student Village - Masterplan | Scale 2

Reviving the dynamic character of the Student Village and recovering Rentukka’s role as a social hub, constituted the second scale of rejuvenation. The main objective was to consolidate the area and

improve its circulation and perception. Due to the introduction of the underground car park, external spaces at the front of the Village were organised into clearly defined functional zones, which allowed

for the insertion of new facilities such as housing, sports fields or student services pavilion.

The arrival to the central building is now established by a landscaped promenade and adjacent square to underline its importance as an orientation centre. Complementary interventions included the creation of a greenhouse in the rear courtyard, and a housing cluster with a landscaped courtyard to the north.

Student Community Building ‚Rentukka’ - Retrofit | Scale 3

The most detailed scale of transformation deals with the student union building Rentukka. At the beginning of the Village’s existence, it used to operate as a vibrant community platform for students and residents. The main concepts for its retrofit are embedded in the notions of openness, clarity of functions and improved light performance.

The building exterior’s orthogonality is now counterbalanced by fluid, curvilinear shapes in the interior, such as the main atrium void and skylight that bear reference to Alvar Aalto’s architecture across

Jyväskylä. To emphasise Rentukka’s significance as a social centre, the building now contains a consolidated brief of student clubs, which were previously scattered throughout the Village. These are

now placed around the main lobby and can be glimpsed into from multiple points across the building.