WINNER – Halailla Luontoa

Benedikt Hartl (DE),  architect

Maximilian Löschke (DE), architect


Halailla Luontoa proves once again that “Less is more”. The name of the proposal – literally, cuddle with nature – succinctly describes the approach taken; in other words, where the unique character of the nature tourism islands off the coast of Helsinki and the unique elements of natural processes are the object of the tourist’s admiration. The new structures on display will provide delightful surprises when spending time in and observing nature. The proposal calls for harmony between nature and man, and offers delightful ways to achieve this. Presented in a very minimalist and sensitive way, the proposal reflects its author’s strong relationship with nature and shows a sense of both personal experience and of living side by side with natural elements and processes. It is very clear that nature is the foundation of everything and that respect for nature is essential when developing solutions for the future.

The presented concept takes the interpretation of a distinctive spirit to its limits. The unique Helsinki archipelago is left almost untouched, as structures for recreational use have a minimal impact and footprint on the ground level. The design of these quite simple structures is very public in character and the chosen site is well justified. The poetic approach is part of the proposal´s very appealing quality.

Solutions for different recreational use, such as playgrounds, saunas and dry toilets, are presented through a carefully studied palette. The character of the architecture is vernacular and very simple, almost as a new chapter in the Helsinki Design Manual. The unique strength of the proposal lies in the character of its non-referential architecture: it does not get entangled in typical references, symbols, and typologies such as pitch roofs, the colour red (‘falun red’), etc., that are conventional and maybe too obvious solutions for generating a vernacular architecture for the archipelago. As ideated by architect Valerio Olgiati and written by theoretician Markus Breitschmid: ‘Non-referentiality is the only way to conceive buildings that make sense in a world in which simple attributions of meaning no longer exist’.

Larger-scale elements are well integrated into the landscape, though almost monumental, while smaller elements are hidden within nature.

Among the building structures are solutions that might suffer from too high costs or too demanding structural questions. On the other hand, other very lightweight and cost-effective elements might pay back a lot.

Nature and people are presented as coexisting without conflict. As the poetic description says: “In nature´s grasp, we all agree”.


Architectural concept: Use a part of nature and lean on it. A tree trunk as structural support, a stone as foundation, we just bring a few wooden slats and beams and stretch our roof. Covered with leaves, an architectural symbiosis of nature and old craftsmanship evolves over time. A few shiny sheets of metal create an aesthetic contrast and mirror nature culture. The water is stored and used for washing. Then the water is treated in a a pond with reeds and used again.

Halailla Luontoa

Upon an isle where nature‘s hand
Did weave a tapestry of sand,
A wondrous place of quaint design,
Where culture and the wild align.

With tourist gems of tiny size,
Each structure, a sweet surprise,
Where nature‘s gifts, a guiding force,
Create a realm of true discourse.

Amidst the foliage, tall and grand,
A tree stands tall, a beacon‘s hand,
Its branches cradle dwellings small,
A symphony of life in thrall.

A bridge of stone, with moss adorned,
Where rushing streams have once meandered,
A testament to nature‘s touch,
As structures blend, they never clutch.

So come, explore this magic isle,
Where culture and the earth compile,
A testament to unity,
In nature‘s grasp, we all agree.

Let‘s cuddle in nature,
let‘s cuddle with nature.

Postscript by ESF: Poem by Finland’s national poet J. L. Runeber

Board 1    Board 2    Board 3    Explanatory text

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