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City Hall of Kauniainen

Designer: VALOA Design Oy

Year: 2011

City: Kauniainen

Country: Finland

Manufacturer: Philips, Martin, E:cue, Bega

Concept Description

SANANI – communal facade lighting text: VALOA design City residents often find office buildings standoffish and bureaucratic, and visits to these buildings are often considered more or less difficult. Almost without exception, the architecture of city halls and municipal offices with their large entrances and dreary lobbies supports this image. The buildings are big, which makes people feel small when standing close to them. The town of Kauniainen wants to create another kind of image. Visiting the town hall should be easy and straightforward. The distances between people are short, and that is now the theme of the World Design Capital project in Kauniainen. Extract from the theme of the design year in Kauniainen: “Kauniainen highlights the theme of sense of community. Everything in Kauniainen is close both physically and mentally. We live in a town with humane dimensions. These dimensions consist of openness, democracy, bilingualism and approachable administration. Closeness can also be seen as dialogue between the old and the new architecture, as interesting cultural history and activities in a lively milieu. Kauniainen knows how to design a good life.” Based on the theme, the design team of VALOA design developed an idea for facade lighting. “We wanted to determine how sense of community as a theme would work in facade lighting, so that the lighting wouldn’t highlight the office aspect of the building but exactly the vice versa? And what about democracy? Could the citizens affect the lighting? Could bilingualism be taken into account? How does the old and the new work together? How does the town hall support the spirit of Kauniainen?” asks lighting designer Antti Hiltunen. The lighting concept received its form via light texts reflected on the facade. The citizens were included in the project by asking them to write their thoughts on Kauniainen on a piece of paper in their own handwriting. What does it mean to be from Kauniainen and why is Kauniainen a good place to live in? This produced a large number of words and short sentences, memories, insights and statements. “It was important that the texts were handwritten. We wanted to specifically highlight the humane aspect of the idea instead of using typewriter-produced, office-like fonts,” Hiltunen says. In addition, handwritten text speaks of long history and respect of tradition. Bilingual texts, on the other hand, tell how both national languages communicate with each other in a natural way. The name of the work, “SANANI”, translates to “my word”. In addition to projections, the deliberate and composed colored lighting creates a background for the texts and separates the building from its surroundings. The luminaries were located so that they did not significantly alter the day-time appearance of the facade. The programmable RGB-lighting allows the look of the building to be transformed from weekdays to weekends and various celebrations. During night-time, the town hall turns into a beautiful and recognizable landmark, making the citizens proud and feeling like the building truly represents them. At the beginning of the design work, the current situation of area lighting around the town hall was mapped out and alteration work was proposed in order to avoid the area lighting from disturbing the facade lighting or its visibility. Glare points were removed and diffused light was taken under control by changing the luminary type of roads and streets from omnidirectional post lights to low bollard lighting. The sculpture, “Tulen halki”, in the yard of the town hall will receive its own lighting next summer when area lighting is also renewed. Lighting technology Projections: Philips Pro Flood Colored lighting on the facade: Martin Tripix Control of colored lighting: E:Cue Butler Area lighting: BEGA ”Let us all sing, let’s sing together! For us, let our town remain a “Village” forever. It is good in here, living in a big city, yet in peace. The forest smells of love, the Gallträsk glistens. Go down the villa road, your memories listen. Always new for tomorrow: step into the light! Now gladly onward, Kauniainen, onward!” – The song of Kauniainen

Photographer: VALOA Design/ Antti Hiltunen