Franzénia Day-Care Center

Where functionalism, classicism and present day meet

Project description:

The former University of Social Sciences’ building “Franzénia” was designed by architect Väinö Vähäkallio in 1930. The façades represent the turning point from classicist to functional architectural style. The main lobbies are imposing classical interiors. The façades and parts of the interior are protected by the planning notation sr-1. The building has been once renovated in 1966 according to the designs of architect Olof Hansson. Franzénia was in university use until 2009 and then empty until the University of Helsinki Funds renovated the building into a day-care center for the City of Helsinki. The day-care has a total of about 205–230 day-care places and about 45 employees. The renovation planned by Talli was completed in 2015. 

The architectural goal for the renovation was to preserve the appearance of the building as well as keep and strengthen the original space hierarchy and the axial, almost symmetrical space order of the building. Of the changes made in the 1960s, only the intermediate doors were preserved; otherwise, the basis for renovation was the 1930s appearance, which was quite well preserved in the main premises of the building. The rich colour scheme of the interiors was largely restored. The colour structure of the façades was also restored. The old space order with its big, sheltered lobbies suited surprisingly well the spatial thinking as defined in the new principles of early childhood education of the City of Helsinki: spaces are intended to operate flexibly, not for a specific activity or group but for the situation and need. The group spaces of the day-care were situated in all three floors and the imposing lobby areas were left as common multi-purpose spaces. The building was designed accessible, and a new lift and two auxiliary lifts were built. 

New furniture that support modern day-care methods and, despite their practicality, blend into the environment of the old building were designed.  The furniture of the main spaces, such as the lobbies and the main entrances, was made of solid pine and overpainted with a brush. The aim was not only the architectural appearance but also to make the furniture as durable and cosy as possible; yet easy to repair, if necessary, over the years. 

Project info:

Building permit granted:11/2013
Client:University of Helsinki
Location:Kallio, Espoo
Size:2 530 m2
Protection status:Protected by the planning notation sr-1 
Original construction date:1930
Original architect:Väinö Vähäkallio
Principal designer:Minna Lukander
Project architect:Riitta Tuomisto
Interior design:Martti Lukander, Oona Airas
Photos:Anders Portman, Kuvatoimisto Kuvio Oy