UUSI KALLIO COMMON + URBAN QUARRY | Helsinki, Finland | Unit 21 | 2015

Awarded Distinction for Design & Distinction for Thesis
Awarded The Bartlett Medal


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Uusi Kallio Common + Urban Quarry

The proposal for Uusi Kallio Common + Urban Granite Quarry, Helsinki was inspired by initial research into the unique geological and cartograpic composition of Finland. Finland, as a country, has been experiencing continental uplift since the last Ice Age whereby the land is rising up from the seabed by 11mm each year and the country as a whole is gaining 7kmannually.








Located in the capital of Helsinki, which sits on a rising granite bedrock, the project proposes to redevelop and reinvent a large existing granite outcrop in the north of the city in the district of ‘Kallio’ [literally translated as ‘the rock’]. By establishing a new and innovative approach towards the selected plot, the scheme begins to reinvent the current attitude towards the potential of these complex granite sites in their dense urban context – exploiting this abundant natural resource as a versatile construction material operating at a range of scales. Rather than raising the site, and the waste rock shipped abroad for land reclamation as is currently the trend, a new community hub would be developed, existing as a monument celebrating the granite rock and its specificity within Helsinki.






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Through the controlled development of CNC routed modelling techniques, a taxonomy of specific cutting and finishing resolutions were developed in line with known excavational granite quarrying processes. The project operates at various resolutions and scales and can be infinitely reworked and refined over time to create a site which is dedicated to this incredible raw material on which the city is built, attracting locals and tourists alike. Uusi Kallio Common acts as a research project which begins to test the limitations of this plentiful granite resource. The intention is for this scheme to exist as a testing ground, setting a precedent for future development and urban densification within Helsinki, and further afield, by exploiting this material which has been often neglected in Finnish architectural vernacular to date.


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The thesis addressed the role of the architectural model which has been largely overlooked in architectural discourse to date and has historically been overshadowed by drawing in both academia and practice. It investigated how the physical architectural model might be considered an important component in the architect’s toolbox with the ability to iteratively inform design.
Exploring the role of the model not only helped to define and clarify its value beyond a purely descriptive object surrogate for the proposed building, but also focused on critically analysing the model’s existence as the physical embodiment of something as intangible as a concept, and in its essence as a catalytic design tool.








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