Shopping centre A Blanc celebrates opening on Otaniemi campus

Designed by Alvar Aalto, the building previously known as Otaniemi’s old shopping centre, has a new name after the renovation and opened in the middle of the Aalto University campus
A Blanc is next to the Alvarinaukio square. Photo: Aalto University / Anders Portman

The renovation of shopping centre A Blanc began in March 2020 and was completed in May 2021. After a comprehensive renovation, the centre's service providers have renovated and finished their own premises. A Blanc’s first stores opened their doors in the summer, and the rest will also start operations in the autumn 2021. The opening of the shopping centre will be celebrated 4.–8.10.2021.

A Blanc has specialty shops and a wide range of services. The shopping centre forms a functional pair with its sibling centre, shopping centre A Bloc, located next to the metro station. On the first floor of A Blanc there are, among others, the Beer and whiskey house Vesiheinä, the barber-hairdresser Shortcut AALTO, the costume rental company Tapiola Juhlapuku and, opening in October, the board game bar Taproom d20. Restaurant Hummus House will start operating in the autumn 2021.

Terveystalo Otaniemi and AFRY's Otaniemi office are located on the second floor of the building. An operator is still being sought for the office space on the second floor.

The renovation brought the building to life

Formerly known as the Otaniemi's shopping centre, the building was completed in two phases in 1961 and 1969 and was designed by Alvar Aalto. It is known for its white, plastered walls and fan-like copper roof, as well as an entire building-long corridor and large shop windows that separate the area from the red-brick research and teaching buildings. The new name of the shopping centre, A Blanc, is a reference to Aalto University (A) and the white walls of the house (Blanc). The building is also a rarity, being one of the few store buildings designed by Alvar Aalto.

The shopping centre was the only one in Otaniemi until shopping centre A Bloc opened in connection with Aalto University's metro station in August 2018. After the opening of the new shopping centre A Bloc, it was possible to renovate A Blanc and restore it back to its original purpose and glory.

With the renovation, the overall look of A Blanc was freshened up when the building technology was renewed and the facades were renovated and restored. The fan-like original copper ceiling was preserved. All old windows and exterior doors were refurbished or renewed according to the old original plans. At the same time, the energy efficiency of the building improved significantly. In front of the centre, a new large terrace with seating was completed and the yard areas were made more comfortable and functional.

The renovation plans were made with respect to the historical and architectural value of the building in cooperation with the Finnish Heritage Agency and the Alvar Aalto Foundation.

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