Valjaskortteli (Harness Factory Block)
- Conversion of a former harness factory for commercial and residential use, and the addition of new buildings
- Scope floor area 15 000 m2 / gross area 18 000 m2
- Location Myllytulli / City Centre, Oulu
- Client Lehto Asunnot Oy
- Housing companies As Oy Oulun Valjaskartano, As Oy Oulun Valjastehdas, As Oy Oulun Roobert, As Oy Oulun Valjaspuisto
The design process of Valjaskortteli block began with the renewing of the city’s local detailed plan. The aim was to preserve the old Valjastehdas harness factory building while enabling its conversion for new uses, and to create a new residential block around the old building.
The Valjaskortteli site is located in one of the greenest places in Oulu city centre: it is surrounded by an old linden tree alley and the verdant Åströminpuisto park. Ainolanpuisto park and the Hupisaaret recreational islands are just around the corner.
The listed Valjastehdas harness factory building serves as the foundation of the block. The building was once part of the leather factory operations of the Åström brothers, who played an influential role in Oulu. The oldest part of the building dates back as far as the 1890s, but most of the old factory is from the 1920s. An additional storey and an extension on the courtyard side were added in the 1950s when the building found new life as a school.
In addition to the old Valjastehdas building, the Valjaskortteli site consists of three new buildings, a parking garage under the courtyard and courtyard canopies. The new buildings are located alongside the factory building, creating a cohesive block complex on the Isokatu street side and wrapping around a sheltered and cosy courtyard behind them.
The new buildings have a modern and streamlined architectural look, yet gentle colours and a rhythm that complements the old Valjastehdas building. On the other hand, the massing and chosen colours make for a peaceful, pleasing and controlled combination. Rugged brown brick masonry has been used for the courtyard structures and entrance canopies alongside the light pastel shades of the residential buildings.
The colours, varying shapes, and heights of the buildings give the complex a rich and varied urban feel.
The street level of the listed Valjastehdas building converted into commercial use, while the upper floors were fitted with apartments. Small loft spaces were added to make use of the atypically high ceilings.
*photos Kaari Photography