The new main building, inaugurated in the summer of 2023, welcomes those arriving at the station with open arms. Through the large windows of the gabled timber-framed building, you can already see what is taking place inside. The central space of the new building is a large hall, which, with its loft space, serves as a dining room alongside teaching activities. It is connected to a separate teaching and groupwork space framed by glass walls as well as to a more closed cabinet space.

The winning design proposal matches the vision for the spirit of the place well in an unpredictable but complementary way. As a recently established group of buildings, the new teaching building and accommodations have fallen into their place alongside the throughway, complementing the old courtyard. As a pivot building that brings the courtyards together, the building that houses the institute itself is more prominently featured. In terms of functionality, a new level of interplay will be seen between the buildings of the forestry field station, dispersing operations more broadly to various buildings.


The accommodation buildings consist of sleeping, dining and working spaces. The premises have a loft, which provides a quiet, separate shelter for sleeping. On the lower level, there are large windows that offer beautiful views of the surroundings. In addition to sleeping, the facilities also function as work spaces if needed. In the corners of the building, the rooms are larger and small groups can also gather in them to work or otherwise just spend time together.

Architect’s views

The new building was designed by Hilla Rudanko and her team at Architects Rudanko + Kankkunen. The design process began with a competition where a proposal for meeting the needs of Hyytiälä was drawn up. The University’s developer team had prepared a competition programme that described facility needs and features as well as the financial framework available. The programme and a workshop organised during the competition further highlighted the history of Hyytiälä as well as the cultural and historical value of the old courtyard and research station. A timber frame and an exceptionally long lifespan of at least 150 years were clear starting points for designing the new building.

At the competition stage, a range of models for solving the facility needs were trialled. The first idea was to place the new building on the site of the old building A. This ultimately proved to be difficult, as operations had to continue without disruptions while being relocated from the old building to the new one. The next option was a large single building on a football field close to the old courtyard. This option was discussed with members of the University community in a workshop held during the competition in Hyytiälä. At the workshop, it was unanimously concluded that one large building close to the old courtyard was far too massive. In the end, a decision was made to place the new building at a suitable distance from the old courtyard, dividing it into four smaller pavilions. The pavilions are connected by a shared roof, under which you can find your way to the accommodation rooms as if they were private cabins in the woods.

Planning guided by user needs and data

Following the competition, the plan was developed in collaboration with the Hyytiälä community and future users of the building. Antti Uotila, director of the research station, researcher Juho Aalto and Jarkko Saarimäki, who oversees maintenance, contributed in particular to the solutions for maintenance and everyday use. The kitchen was designed in close cooperation with the restaurant service supervisor, while cleaning specialists from the University’s property services helped with material solutions and cleanability. The overall plan was developed in user meetings with representatives from various faculties and the student community. While the fundamental solution in the plan is similar to the proposal submitted in the competition, the interior of the building has evolved considerably from that on the basis of user experiences.

A data model helps perceive the building

Designing a new building always involves groupwork; in the constant exchange of information, the most important tool is a data model. In the early stages of the project, the architects prepared, based on the plan submitted at the competition stage, the first data model, which displayed the location, shape and facilities of the building. The data model was distributed to other designers, who used it to initiate their own design efforts. A structural engineer modelled the structural system, while technical building system designers modelled the HVAC and electricity requirements, a kitchen designer modelled the kitchen and an interior designer the furniture. As the project progressed, these plans were regularly combined into a comprehensive combination model where potential conflicts and problems to be solved became apparent.


Utilising the data model in research

In the future, the data model will also be utilised by the Living Lab research platform in the new building. During the design process, it was extremely interesting for the designers to familiarise themselves with the research activities, for which they were able to provide information as well. In fact, the architect hopes to be able to visit Hyytiälä in the coming years and hear about research projects that utilise the new building and its design data in a way that could not have been anticipated at the planning stage.

Art for the new building and the environment

The project has also collaborated with the curator and artists of the Climate Whirl art project. A commissioned work by Kustaa Saksi will be placed in the new building, while a collection of artworks entitled Periferia – Forest Art Lab was opened in the summer of 2023 in the surroundings of the station. Consisting of works of environmental, sound, video, textile and conceptual art, the exhibition was curated by Ulla Taipale.