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Rovaniemi football stadium wins Finlandia award for architecture

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10/17/2016 9:00 AM

Sweaty changing rooms and ugly steel halls tend to be first image that appears when one thinks about sports constructions. Sports arenas are public buildings the same way as churches, schools, theatres, and museums. Their appearance matters. And with relatively small investments they can be turned into impressive monuments.


Evidently that is what Aaro Artto from Artto Palo Rossi Tikka (APRT) thinks and has put into the design of Railo, a multipurpose building in Rovaniemi’s Sports Arena, as the team’s chief architect.
The Finnish Association of Architects (SAFA) on October 13 awarded the 2016 Finlandia Prize for Architecture to APRT, a Helsinki-based international studio for architecture, city planning and design, for the excellence Railo, Railo building in the Sports Arena of one of Finland's northernmost cities, Rovaniemi, which doubles as a stand for the football stadium.

APRT completed Railo in 2015 and on behalf of the firm Artto accepted the award at a ceremony in Helsinki.

In sports construction, one should consider whether to take the easiest way or to put good effort, once you are doing it, said Artto, also a teacher of Architecture at the Helsinki University of Technology, adding, since 1960s, Finnish sports architecture has mostly taken the easiest way out. For example, many hockey rinks are decked ice rinks with necessary extensions added over the decades.

As a hobbyist hockey player Artto also practices weekly in a hall that has been built inside a repurposed frozen storage.

Finland is currently renovating and building many football arenas, of which Railo of Rovaniemi is a good example. The field right next to the town centre is home to the football team RoPS.

In addition to top football, the Sports Arena serves ordinary citizens as well. The audience and maintenance structure includes a number of facilities ranging from a dance hall and changing rooms to a skating rink and skiing tracks for the winter.

Artto praised the ambition and enthusiasm of the people of Rovaniemi, “They have taken the line that once you build, you build to impress.”

One incentive of this approach in building is the large amount of tourists who visit Rovaniemi. The monumental audience structure is visible from city thoroughfares like a sculptural, large landmark.

Towards the field its silhouette reminds of the northern mountain rows or even an antique temple, pointed out prime minister Paavo Lipponen while handing over the Finlandia award.

APRT has been bestowed with a number of prestigious awards. Among them are the Finnish State Prize for Architecture in 2008, the Rose for Building award in 2008, the Wooden Structure of the Year Award in 2002 and 2011, and the Finnish Concrete Award in 1999 and 2008

Buildings designed by APRT include the Sibeliustalo of Lahti, the theatre of Hämeenlinna, the Pilke office building of Rovaniemi, and a sports hall currently being built in Turku. Its next projects include the Tapiola station of the West Metro.

We have done it all from city planning to concert halls, we don't have a specific specialty, said Artto.

Other candidates for the prize included Helsinki's Löyly, the Lappeenranta City Theatre, and the Suvela Chapel in Espoo.

City Rovaniemi-Finland Times Report