The State Real Property Authority together with the Ministry of Education and the University of Helsinki arranged an architectural competition to realize the third planning stage at Helsinki University's Kumpula Campus, i.e. the facilities for the Departments of Physics and other Physical Sciences. The competition was arranged according to the rules of the Finnish Association of Architects as a competition by invitation between June 9 and September 1, 1997, and its result was announced on October 22, 1997, in the auditorium of the Department of Chemistry at the Kumpula campus, adjacent to the coming building site of the Department of Physics.
The winning design, named "Käämi" (coil), was designed by the architects' office Kaira-Lahdelma-Mahlamäki. According to the prize committee their plan has "in an ambitious way combined functional and technical solutions in the architecture". The resultant plan contains "in correct proportions lively urban spirit, general pervading of its genre and architecturally sensitively designed common areas."
The site at Kumpula is one of the four main locations of the University of Helsinki. The aim is to centralize departments of the Faculty of Science which are somewhat scattered and, in part, functioning in unsuitable premises. The Accelerator Laboratory building which was inaugurated in 1981 and the Department of Chemistry, the product of an invitational architectural competition, finished in 1995, are located in the same area and the stages III and IV of the Kumpula campus will be contiguous with these earlier Kumpula achievements.
The task to be addressed in the competition was to situate the 3rd and 4th construction phases suitably for the Kumpula site and to draw detailed plans for the complete accomplishment of stage III which consists of the Departments of Physics, Geophysics, Meteorology, Geography and Geology and the Helsinki Institute of Physics, the Physics Information Technology Department and the premises of the Dating Laboratory of the Finnish Museum of Natural History. The stage III plan also included detailed drawings for the library which , however, is to be completed in stage IV.
The prize board consisted of the director of buildings of the State Real Property Authority Erkki Aho (chairman), chief engineer Mauri Tuomioja and chief architect Tuomo Hahl, director of buildings Aimo Murtomäki from the Ministry of Education, director of buildings Toivo Vainiontalo from the University of Helsinki, prof. Mauno Kosonen, dean of the Faculty of Science, and prof. Juhani Keinonen, vice dean of the Faculty of Science. The competitors had nominated architect Pekka Salminen as a member of the prize board. Secretarial duties were taken care of by architect Eija Larkas from JP-Terasto Oy.
The planners of the following architects' offices with their groups were invited into the competition: Arkkitehtitoimisto Kaira-Lahdelma-Mahlamäki Ky, Arkkitehtitoimisto Nurmela-Raimoranta-Tasa Oy, Arkkitehtitoimisto Jan Söderlund & Co Oy and Virta-Palaste-Leinonen Arkkitehdit Oy.
The prize board agreed unanimously on the fact that the plan called "Käämi" by Kaira-Lahdelma-Mahlamäki best fulfils the criteria of the organizer of the competition and forms the best starting point for developing the Kumpula campus in an urban, architectonic, functional and economical way.