Evira, Finnish Food Safety Authority, Helsinki, Finland


Location: Helsinki, Finland

Year: 2006

Size: 24,500 m2

Programme: Laboratories, adminstration offices and research facilities




 - One primary mass winds around large atria

 - Glass façade has silk printed images of biological cells

 - Heavy in-situ concrete contrasts lighter glass elements

 - Terraces are cut out of the main mass in bold colours

 - Separate zoning and isolated circulation deals with hazardous specimens




The Finnish Food Safety Authority building, Evira, fundamentally deals with the control of biological substances; from research on dangerous and environmentally hazardous animal and plant diseases, to analysis of foodstuffs produced and sold in Finland. Such a building brings with it massive technical challenges; Evira tackles these with simple clarity.


Spatially the building comprises of one primary, winding mass. On its lower levels are the laboratories and above that sit the offices. As the main structure winds, atria are created in between the different wings of the building. Within these vast glazed spaces, heavy and sculptural staircases take centre place - these join with similarly sculpted bridges that cross the open space.


The use of concrete – in contrast with the lighter glass with prints of cells on it – is striking throughout the building. The portal entrance is sculpted as though the concrete tunnel itself opens up for the user and cuts diagonally into the winding main structure. All along the primary mass, both in and outside of the atria, segments have been cut out to create terraces clad in bold red, green or a warm timber.


From a practical perspective, care had to be taken to ensure the separation of potentially hazardous substances; or important and volatile research. The buildings zoning was such that pathological specimens have their own delivery point and isolated circulation routes.




ICT Building, Turku, 2006

Exactum, Helsinki, 2004

Physicum, Helsinki, 2001

Festia, Tampere, 1995