Aalto University: Aalto University announces two art competitions for a campus block under construction

Aalto University announced an open to all artists competition and an invitated competition to find exceptional and feasible proposals for works of art to be placed in different spaces in the Aalto University Works block. The Konemies block in Otaniemi will be transform into the Aalto Works block by 2025, in a development project where renovating the existing buildings and adding new buildings to the block.

Aalto Works brings together actors, spaces and opportunities to create innovations: tools for creating prototypes to be tested and research laboratories for developing finished products, technologies and new research results. After completion, Aalto Works will house the departments of the School of Engineering, Department Machine Hall of the School of Electrical Engineering, Aalto Design Factory, Startup Sauna, Aalto Ventures Program and partners of Aalto University.

‘One of Aalto University’s goals is to promote creativity through teaching and research, as well as through art acquisitions. I hope that through these art competitions we will find works that in many different ways illuminate and inspire the creation of new solutions to future challenges,’ says Aalto University’s Vice President of Research Ossi Naukkarinen.

Sunny winter day, forest on the left, road in the centre and K2 building on the right
K2 building was completed in 1965. Photo: Aalto University / Panu Sainio
Open to all artists, the art competition encourages bold ideas
For the first time, Aalto University has announced an open to all artists art competition, that seeks art proposals for K2 building’s (Puumiehenkuja 3) facade at the Aalto Works block. Designed by Jaakko Kontio and Kalle Räike, the building was completed in 1965.

The university is looking for a variety of great ideas for campus. Future users of the block especially want light art for the campus, so this will be emphasized in the evaluation of competition proposals. Proposals can be submitted for the open art competition 4.1. – 4.4.2022, and the winning proposal will be announced in May 2022. More information and competition rules can be found on the art competition website.

Invited competition seeks artworks for the K3 building
The invited art competition seeks to find exceptional and feasible proposals for permanent artworks to be situated in four spaces at Aalto Works K3 building (Puumiehenkuja 5, Espoo, Finland). The competitors may suggest art works either to one or several spaces, which are the main entrance area, the two light openings and entry area for the café.

Five artists were invited to take part in the competition: Lauri Astala, Frida Fjellman, Antti Laitinen, Pasi Rauhala and Tülay Schakir. Deadline for sketches for the invited competition is 4.4.2022, and the competition results will be published in May 2022.

Skylight with sun coming through it at K3 building
Structures inside K3 building. Photo: Aalto University / Outi Turpeinen
Additional direct art acquisitions for the other buildings of Aalto Works are under planning, and these pieces will be curated by professor Helena Sederholm, professor Kevin Tavin and senior specialist Outi Turpeinen. There is a strong wish for the artworks to be or include light art. Successful proposals will follow the visions of public art at Aalto University and the Aalto Works art concept.

Art concept honours engineering history and tradition
The art theme ‘Engineering Materials’ honours and respects the Otaniemi areas long history with educating engineers. Simultaneously the core idea is also to focus on engineering as a verb. Aalto University is well-known for its material research on different fields. Joining unexpected materials, for example biomaterials for clothes, nanomaterials, is in the heart of creating sustainable solutions.

Aalto Works -city block is connecting different fields, disciplines and beyond, for example mechanical engineers with fresh start-ups. The ‘Engineering Materials’ collection of artworks aims to create both critical questions, but also inspiring aesthetics in the environment of work and study. Art works are there to challenge our minds and to enhance environment where the sense of community is highly valued. The art theme builds expectation for engineering the future.

The vision of public art at Aalto University
In 2017, Aalto University decided to comply with a one per cent art principle in its building projects. The campus art competition is the university’s fifth project, where approximately one per cent of a building project’s allocation is allocated to art purchases. The one per cent art principle was first applied to the Radical Nature art concept in Aalto University’s main building, Dipoli.

The vision of public art at Aalto University is to address and raise questions about what it is to be a university, what we do together in society, and what constitutes the public. Public art is site-specific and connects with the diversity of the university and its post-disciplinary communities. Public artworks reflect this diversity through different art forms, materials, techniques and traditions.

Art concept work group
Sari Dhima, Head of Workplace Development, Aalto University Campus and Real Estate
Suvi Hormio, HR Manager, School of Engineering
Erwin Laiho, Laboratory Technician, Aalto Design Factory
Panu Sainio, Technology Manager, School of Engineering
Myungji Suh, Head of Communications, Aalto Ventures Program
Riitta Särkisilta-Lundberg, Communications Manager, School of Engineering
Outi Turpeinen, Senior Specialist, Aalto University