Pyramid buildings for energy-efficient residential area
During an international students' course at Aalto University, an energy-efficient residential area was designed for Helsinki's Laajasalo. Rewarded as the best design was a work where the buildings are of pyramid shape, the courtyards are covered and the parking area is underground.
In the winning entry, engineering-oriented design was combined with architecture, resident-orientated approach and comfort, explains the course coordinator, Mikko Martikka. The design showed both innovative thinking as well as utilization of the existing infrastructure.
– We wanted to make the area as bright, energy-efficient and beautiful as possible. We had the layout for the Kruunuvuorenranta area in Laajasalo, and we changed it to bring more light to the area, explains Hanna Vellonen, a student of water engineering and a member of the group with the winning design.
The buildings' pyramidal shape would make the apartments brighter, as the windows would face towards the south. The heights of the pyramid buildings would differ from each other to allow more light to the area. The height differences would also make it easier to orientate in the area.
Courtyards, tunnels and non-motoring
Kruunuvuorenranta is located close to the sea, and it is often windy and cold there. For this reason, covered courtyards, which even during winter would be comfortable places for leisure, were designed between the buildings.
–We also designed there underground tunnels and parking places, from where one can be taken by elevator directly to one's apartment.
Otherwise, the area was planned for non-motorists; thus, moving around by foot or by bicycle would be effortless. Vellonen tells that the group had come up with an idea of a mode of transport never before seen even in Helsinki – a cable track suspended in the air: a carriage moving along it would take passengers to the centre of Helsinki or to nearby islands.
Waste-consciousness up, waste amounts down
In addition to architectural solutions, the group thought about the ways of sorting the waste in the area.
– Increasing awareness would be the most important thing as far as waste sorting is concerned. For example, the buildings' mixed waste containers could have a code for each household. The code would be entered each time waste was thrown into a container. The residents would receive monthly information about the amount of waste produced by them.
Awareness of consumption would also have a relation to energy use. The apartments would have an energy panel, which would show energy consumption and its price to the occupant. The energy to the area would partially come from solar and wind energy.
̶ We also had brainstorming sessions on wastewater management. The dirtiest of the water would go directly to a water treatment plant, but water, cleaner by one grade, such as that used for washing clothing, could be stored with the help of a heat pump and used then for heating the buildings in the residential area.
In addition to Hanna Vellonen, there were five other students in the winners' group: Rinze Pietersma from the Netherlands, Yann Le Moing from France, Marco Ottavio Tarquini and Sergio Chirivi from Italy and Ines Stefanec from Slovenia. Researcher Gary Watkins from the Aalto University School of Chemical Technology acted as the group guide.
Text: Tea Kalska
NEPTUNE network course at Aalto University
An energy-efficient residential area was designed during an international course organized by the NEPTUNE network. The network arranges yearly group projects, in which tasks related to the environment are solved by international and multidisciplinary student groups. This year's course was arranged at Aalto University, where the group was hosted by the Clean Technologies research group, led by Professor Olli Dahl, of the Aalto University School of Chemical Technology. The project was realized in cooperation with a group of Riku Vahala, Professor of Water and Wastewater Engineering. FIDIPro Professor Stefan Winter played an expert role in the project.