H-K Labs

Curiosity and positive thinking are the guidelines in everything we do. We want to find new solutions and develop our know-how. That is why we are actively involved in research and development, both internally between ourselves and as commissions from our clients.

Sustainable Humanity

Of the four pillars of sustainability, environmental and economic sustainability are relatively easy to quantify social and cultural sustainability being more complicated and thus of particular interest to us. We want to develop better methods of participation on all levels of planning and design, focus on the interplay between humans and spaces, and consequently play an important role in the creation of ever better functioning and inspiring communities.

Urban Spaces of High Quality

We believe that more work (research by design) needs to be done on questions of urban scale. For instance – the effects of high building are not primarily about the urban skyline, but about what happens on ground level. We also need to create innovative hybrids and rid ourselves of the worst excesses of zoning. We also want to be prepared for a future where urban space reserved for traffic has a totally different character than it has today. We need to know more about the characteristics and properties of space. Let’s get ready, let’s not wait.

Cure and Care

Post-occupancy evaluations and evidence-based design are two important tools that have been created to improve the quality of our new facilities for cure and care. In today’s situation, when the status of the welfare state is being threatened and new procurement methods are being experimented with, it is increasingly more important that we as architects do everything possible to make sure that no shortcuts are resorted to. Savings, just for the sake of it, are almost always harmful in the long run. The total picture from initial investment costs to maintenance and running costs needs to established and taken into account when making decisions.

Wolfson Economics Prize 2021

This essay was written in response to the question: How would you design and plan new hospitals to radically improve patient experiences, clinical outcomes, staff wellbeing, and integration with wider health and social care?

Asclepeions – Ancient Greek centres of holistic healing are used as the primary reference. Hence, the narrative is organized around the idea of a modernized version that would complement and supplement our existing healthcare system.

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Time

2021

Team

Text – Hennu Kjisik; Sketches – Trevor Harris; Graphics – Kathleen Diémé

Housing solutions for people on the autism spectrum

The study was funded by ARA, the Housing Finance and Development Centre of Finland. Two housing units for people on the autism spectrum were evaluated using methods such as interviews, questionnaires and experts’ walk-through. The research focuses on the suitability of the environment and the outdoor spaces and how well the spatial solutions, furnishings and materials meet the needs of the residents and how they impact the everyday life in these housing units. The purpose of the study is to assemble existing data into an easily digestible form as well as to provide new information to commissioning clients and architects about which aspects of building quality are most central to the wellbeing of residents.

”This will be a good report! Rare to see a first version of such a high quality. Interesting to read and unique, this kind of information has not been available before. Excellent that you offered to do this, we would never have got it done otherwise. Your graphs are very good and illuminating. (Saara Nyyssölä, ARA)

Time

2019

Team

Charlotte Nyholm, Iines Karkulahti, Heljä Nieminen

From Doughnuts to Muffins – 30 years of Urban Planning

This collection of essays was published in honour of the office’s 30th birthday. The book consists of 17 articles by architects, urbanists and other professionals from seven countries. Each writer deals with the past thirty years from their own particular perspective but all of them also, each in their own individual way, look forward to the future.

Time

2016-2018

Content

210 pp.

Design principles for tall buildings in Espoo

Principles for tall building in the City of Espoo consists of a research project published as a book as well as of a workshop and seminar. Elaborated argumentation on tall buildings in general and for Espoo in particular, zoning guidelines, instructions for designing the immediate surroundings of tall buildings as well as a “shopping list” for better tall buildings were included in the material. A workshop was held for the decision makers of Espoo and a seminar with well-known international speakers for the local experts and the general public.

Client

City of Espoo

Time

2012-2013

Content

132 pp.

Team

Trevor Harris, Hennu Kjisik, Sofia de Vocht, Charlotte Nyholm, Hannu Louna

Helsinki’s pedestrian environments – qualitative analysis

The project consisted of field work related to a qualitative analysis of pedestrian environments in Helsinki and reporting thereof. Qualitative analysis collects information about public urban spaces, how they are used and by whom. 32 different squares or other places within central Helsinki were analysed, as well as 14 others in suburban areas. All the major public spaces in the heart of the city were included, in the suburbs many of the chosen spots were within close proximity of shopping centres.

The aim was to gain a comprehensive understanding of the way these pedestrian environments work through using qualitative and quantitative evaluation methods, and also benefitting from the views of expert groups and accidental passers-by. In the qualitative analysis, the experts also used the 12 qualitative criteria developed by Jan Gehl.

Client

City of Helsinki, Town Planning Office

Time

2016

Team

Partners: Trafix Oy (traffic planners) and MASU Planning Oy (landscape architects)

Cure and Care – Healing Spaces Then and Now

The catalogue for an exhibition in the Museum of Finnish Architecture was a collection of essays about the history of hospital design, specifically from the point of view of architectural competitions. The authors were organisers and winners of these competitions, as well as people involved in research of the subject. The exhibition itself was also curated by our office.

Time

2016

Content

96 pp.

Power of Architecture – towards better hospital buildings

This work is based on a methodology known as ”research by design”. It is research in which the end result is an artefact, in this case consisting of two different competition entries. In 2009, the book received the Oskari Vilamo award for the best doctoral thesis in the field of technology. In Philipp Meuser’s new book Design Manual – Hospitals and Medical Facilities (DOM publishers, Berlin, 2019), it is referred to as one of the ten most inspirational works in the field during the last 20 years.

 

Time

2009

Content

267 pp.

Team

Hennu Kjisik

Architects Declare

Our work at Harris & Kjisik Architects has been driven by curiosity and thirst for knowledge. We are always looking to upgrade our skills and develop new solutions. Research and development has been an integral part of our practice. With the intention of facilitating a productive exchange of ideas between our projects and research, we are creating the H-K labs platform with the help of Business Finland pandemic funding.

Following the scale of work that guides our practice, our research will be organised under environmental quality – both at the architectural and urban design scales. We have identified inspiring and supportive spatiality, accommodating climatic change, realising healthy environments while ensuring social sustainability in addition to using both material and economic resources wisely and sparingly, as the central themes and challenges of our work.

The H-K Labs platform will showcase our ongoing research projects and have a blog channel where our team members can share ideas & thoughts on work-in-progress. Posts will have a monthly frequency and will aim to focus on current issues in the discipline. Our first blog post is in response to our signing up for the Finnish chapter of Architects Declare and focuses on climate change, the background of the Architects Declare movement as well as possible steps forward.

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Team

Author: Sudar Oli Gunasekara

Advisors: Iines Karkulahti, Charlotte Nyholm, Katriina Rosengren

BIM for Architects: The case of Siltasairaala

Bridge Hospital is the largest construction project in the history of HUS (the Hospital District of Helsinki and the Uusimaa region of Finland). The project is an extension to an existing hospital complex and is located in a very tight site in the Meilahti neighbourhood of Helsinki. The name is derived from a bridge-like part that connects the ward and the hot hospital building to another with daytime clinical consultation facilities. The completed building will encompass roughly 70.000 square meters of built area. Construction is due to be finished next year, 2022. Building information modelling (BIM) of this project received international recognition when we secured the best public project award in the Tekla BIM Awards 2020. In this blog post, I will roughly outline the BIM process and reflect on some aspects that could be improved in the future.

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Team

Author: Janne Kivelä

Helsinki East Urban Centre | Itä-Helsingin Keskusta

Helsinki East Urban Centre was an international two-phase ideas competition held in 2019-2020. The goal was to find innovative, inspiring, technically and financially feasible solutions that would generate a change in the Itäkeskus area from being a major traffic junction to a genuine eastern centre for Helsinki City. We were awarded the first prize in the competition in November 2020.

At present, Itäkeskus, the centre of Helsinki’s eastern suburb, is situated at the intersection of major traffic arteries and the urban milieu is dominated by large-scale shopping centres. Our competition entry proposed a new pedestrian-centric urban environment by continuing the grid plan across the motorway as an uninterrupted structure with smooth level changes. Our design drew primarily from the existing different levels in the site and the need to create an easier pedestrian access across the highway. Our landscape architects’ thorough study of the grand landscape and rock formations on the site helped us to understand how to treat the different areas of the site and decide on the green corridors, recreational routes, etc. We saw the city centre as a densification of functions and possibilities, centred around the little person on the street. So, despite the large amount of traffic in the site, the pedestrian experience will be reminiscent of an easy-going hill town. Our traffic planners had earlier worked extensively on the site and they helped us create this vision with ease. In our vision, the future centre of Itäkeskus will not just be a concentration of massive amounts of building, but will rather be created by a concentration of people, activities, events, cultures and possibilities.

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How Is Experience Connected to Urban Design?

In connection with urban design, the importance of social and cultural sustainability is often talked about, but these values are not visible in the data that is provided for designers as a basis for their work. Harris-Kjisik Architects decided to collect this data themselves, when the development of the Itäkeskus district began.

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Team

Planning of the study: architects Aino Raatikka and Taru Niskanen

Implementation of the study and the field work: architects Aino Raatikka, Taru Niskanen, Hannin Alnimri and Lauri Kontiainen, Yuxin Wu, BArch and Kwan Yui Ip, architecture student.