Geohouse Smart Village
Geohouse Smart Village

The objective of the Geohouse project is to develop economically, ecologically and socially attractive living alternative in rural area, and while doing so, counteract on undesirable effects of intense urbanization in both rural and urban communities.

The site is near UNESCO´s Global Geoparks called Rokua - a geologically unique landscape district formed during the Ice Age. Village centre of Utajärvi can be reached within 5 minutes by bike and the city of Oulu within an hour by bus or train. The site consists of two plots of hayfields, which both are bordered by a main district road in the south and Oulujoki river in the north.

Our office was commissioned to design a concept and layout for the Village, to work as a basis for further development. Design process was carried out in close consultation with the local community in order to find out the local needs and wishes, and to better understand potential opportunities and constraints related to the project.

The layout takes advantage of good connections to the urban centres on one hand, and the presence of the river and green landscape on the other. Homes and private areas are arranged on the perimeter of the site, and together with planting they form a boundary between the public roads and internal community spaces. Homes can be reached at ease, while safe and efficient pedestrian network for shared living activities can be created inside the area. The green interior opens towards the river, integrating the landscape and related leisure functions with the Village. Waste soil from construction is reused on-site as an extra acoustic barrier by the main road.

Sharing concepts are utilized for safety, wellbeing and economy. Ownership of land, houses and tools is based on a cooperative model, bringing economic opportunities to tendering, construction and maintenance. Generous outdoor spaces for daycare, play and sports, relaxing and entertainment, farming and fishing can be provided, as private spaces are developed for relatively modest footprints. A community house and a river house offer shared functions from daycare and youth activities to community events, sauna, and shared cooking.

Living costs are kept low by taking advantage of cooperative ownership model, modular construction and by developing flexible floorplans for the changes during the building lifecycle. Two types of wooden housing typologies are to be developed to meet different needs: a detached house and small block of flats. Wellbeing is promoted by naturally lit wooden interiors with generous views to the green landscape. Operational costs are kept low by compact spatial distribution and energy-efficient building envelope. Any required energy is generated by design-integrated solar panel system and an CHP unit fueled by renewable energy.

Commuting for work is easy due to good rail and bus connections and shared community car scheme. Working remotely from home is to be integrated in the housing layouts and provided technology. Internal working opportunities within the community are seen in functions related to café, daycare, elders care, farming, repairs and energy operation. Potential is also seen for indoor farming, brewery and hostel businesses within the layout.

Location:Utajärvi, Finland
Client:ASV Arctic Smart Village Oy
Project completion:2019
Gross Floor Area:Site 103 000 m2, GFA 8 000 m2
Urban design:Toni Yli-Suvanto Architects
Visualisation:Toni Yli-Suvanto Architects