Samoankuja housing

Background: direct commission
Type: building and courtyard design
Client: Rakennusteho Oy
Status: under construction
Year: 2019 –
Location: Jätkäsaari, Helsinki
Size: 4100 m² housing (44 apartments), 350 m² commercial
Team: Vesa Humalisto (partner in charge), Tuomas Voutilainen (project architect, construction), Timo Arjanko (project architect, building permit), Jenni Merinen (project architect, draft phase), Anni-Mari Anttola (landscape architect in charge), Leena Buller (landscape architect), Valtteri Hautsalo, Daniel Reini, Antti Haataja, Miia Suomela, Viktoria Mazaeva

The design of the brick residential building has been guided by the principles of multisensory and universal design.


Samoan Fale is located in Melkinlaituri area in Jätkäsaari. The site is close to the sea and well connected to public transport. The building is next to the Samoankuja pedestrian street crossing the area.

Photo: Suomen Ilmakuva Ltd / Helsinki City Museum 2014

Inspiration from afar

Fale is a traditional Samoan dwelling with a large straw roof. The aim was to design a building with a simple appearance, but a different roof shape, yet suitable for the cityscape.

A multi-sensory living environment

The project was initiated with a study based on a literature review and expert interviews to find ways to increase multisensory design in residential environments. The research report will be published later.

In Samoan Fale, solutions that support multisensory and holistic accessibility include: centralized mail delivery, consideration of contrast in material choices, and  personalization of stair levels by various means. In addition, the minimum requirements of accessibility have been surpassed where possible.

Brick enlivens the facades

The building masses appear as if made of a single substance: facades are brick masonry and roofs of matching clay tiles. The façades borrow from traditional brick architecture, executed in a contemporary manner. Brick reliefs highlight entrances, eaves, and windows of the building.

The building is divided into smaller-scale masses with zones of conservatories, which emphasizes the liveliness of the façade. The ground floor is a unique entity and houses business premises.

Breezes from the tropics

The courtyard is a haven of sensory experience: paths of gravel and stone ash absorb storm water, but also enrich the soundscape. Main routes and entrances are clearly indicated using brick and suitable lighting. Wooden boardwalks lead to the rain garden.

The yard supports multisensory experiences. The gravel and stone ash surfaces of the routes absorb storm water, but also enrich the passers’ soundscape. The main routes and entrances are clearly visible with a courtyard brick surface and lighting. Wooden piers lead to the rain garden.

Samoan Fale candidly combines old and new.