Networked Tissue. Aalto campus 2015 ©2012
Status: International Competition Aalto campus 2015
Client: Aalto University
Design: Monolab, team: Jan Willem van Kuilenburg with E. Pero Franco, A. López de Rego, D. Steponavicius, I. Subias, S. Zenobi


…towards a new interactive research & learning environment

True interactivity is triggered between very different entities. The core idea of this proposal is an open and powerful interactivity of three different stacked worlds. The center level is the academic world between a public world below and a natural world above. The urban tissue made by these three levels is perforated by a pedestrian system of a boulevard, streets and a series of patios. On top is a string of different gardens with small pavilions, gardening and sporting facilities. All three worlds are working closely together. All departments have their own foot print in this lay-out.


Each world has a major operative. The focused academic activities among students and tutors takes place at +1 level. From this level students and their work can go interdisciplinary and/or public to the public ground floor or go up for reflection & contemplation in the natural and leisure roof environment.


The private +1 floor level holds all academic core programs of the departments and learning center. It is tuned to focused work of teams and individuals. Departments are linked by air bridges.


The public 0 ground floor level is made by most of the commercial program and academic art galleries that sink down from the +1 academic level. In the art galleries students can work interdisciplinary and also expose their work to fellow students and the wider public in the public environment. Selling of art works is a promising option.


The +2 roof level offers a relaxed green environment and facilities in small pavilions and green houses for teams and individual students that need to reflect upon their work and process. Each department has its own typical green environment and together these make a series of gardens. An overall running track connects all departments through the icons and their terraces. In winter the track and terraces are kept free of snow. The rest of year the whole roof park is available. Crops of vegetables are harvested and various playgrounds facilitate sporting. The roof environment clearly targets to bring health to the students, tutors and staff. Parts of the roof can be made public.


Social sustainability requires the academic world and public world to mingle. To make a functional tissue, various types of open communicative and distributive spaces are introduced.

Boulevard is the main street that feeds all departments. It connects three plateaus that mediate the terrain heights. Halfway this boulevard the learning center and central administration with staff facilities are located. From the boulevard all patios are visible.

Streets emphasize the different departments and make links to the surrounding campus. Some parts have closeable roof parts that make the streets into half climate gallery spaces. Neighboring departments can organize public and interdisciplinary 24-h events in the streets together.

Patios make the heart of each department as social art exposure spaces that are well embedded in the public environment and visually connected to the boulevard. Each patio has a vertical icon that makes the main department entry and connects all levels. The icons with the circulation spaces of each department have a specific color.

Micro patios make connections from the focussed academic world to the gardens on top and the public realm below.

type 1: Small indoor patios at +1 academic level are glass terrariums like downward extensions of the gardens. Beautiful glass cases with plants, flowers and butterflies change the brute concrete floors into a luxurious environment. The glass terrariums can be opened to bring the natural environment inside the focused academic level.

type 2: The narrow openings in studio spaces at the +1 level and +2 garden level floors can also hold narrow private stairs for students and tutors to go down public into gallery spaces (ground floor) and up into contemplation at garden top level.


The central square is visually and programmatically linked to the boulevard and to the main building. At academy floor level a huge suspended screen displays real time media on international art and related topics and optional advertisements. All students and other pedestrians are up-to-date at all times. The square has a public stair up to the gardens and down to the parking and metro station.


The parking is concentrated below the central square and above the mezzanine floor of the metro station. The passage of the escalators is in the center of the parking. Two underground parking legs connect Eastward and Westward to the campus road system.


The VTT building is also networked by placing the additional program as links in between the building volumes of the current layout. Court yards are made. Each yard can have its own use, quality and finishes.


Concrete core activation (CCA) is applied because of its efficiency and because of the extended floor fields. Exposed concrete floors and ceilings radiate warmth in winter and coolness in summer. A deep underground reservoir is required for storage of water. The facades have two insulated and ventilated glass parts, the narrow cavity in-between is air conditioned; warm air is extracted and re-used through heat exchange units. A system of horizontal facade lamellas closes at night to reduce energy loss.


Brute materials are applied as much as possible. Finishes are scarcely applied; only where needed, like entry areas and circulation spaces. Ducts, pipes and cables are visible, running along the concrete ceilings. A dense pattern of LED lighting is applied in the interiors like a ‘suspended’ ceiling below the brute concrete. Students have lots of opportunities to create and tune their own environment.


Columns, beams and floor slabs are cast/prefab exposed concrete. Floors and ceilings are exposed to allow warm and cool radiation for climate control. Exterior concrete ceilings are insulated and finished.


At street level, façade parts are to be opened whenever a studio goes public or as soon as departments start working together. At academic level al facades are made of glass with the aluminum lamella system in front.


Floors, suspended ceilings and icons have their typical color in each department. Circulation is organized around each patio of all departments.


The public campus floor within the project is finished in hardwood planks with ‘fingers’ that reach out to the rest of the campus. Public furniture is made in groups of ‘rocks’ with indirect lighting underneath.