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New building in the Stjärnan block to be named Astra

The new building being built by the Åbo Akademi University Foundation on the former site of Gadolinia on Åbo Akademi University’s campus in Turku will be given the name Astra. The name was chosen from 582 entries in an open competition.

“We are delighted that so many people entered the naming competition. Many of the suggestions were in Finnish and English, a plus considering the fact that the name needs to work in different languages,” says the Foundation’s CEO, Lasse Svens.

The criteria were that the name of the building was to reflect a modern, international campus and work in Swedish, Finnish and English. The name was chosen by a jury comprising representatives of the Åbo Akademi University Foundation, Åbo Akademi University and external stakeholders: Tuija Alihaanperä, Heidi Backman, Malin Brännback, Thurid Eriksson, Susanna Häyry, Teemu Kirjonen, Ken Snellman, Lasse Svens, Ellen Söderlund and student members Carl Englund and Rudolf Tommos. The Foundation’s Communications Planner, Helena Nylund, acted as secretary.

Preliminary sketch of the new building in the Stjärnan block by Sigge Arkitekter

There were so many entries that a smaller group of jury members first selected a shortlist which was then sent to language experts at Åbo Akademi University for consultation. The winning name Astra was suggested more than 30 times. The reasons given included Astra being an appropriate name for a new building in the Stjärnan block, as Stjärna means star in Swedish and Astra means star in Latin. Because the building will be a place for students at Åbo Akademi University to meet, one might also imagine that it will be a place where new stars are born or that students visiting the building are the stars of the university.

“Astra is a word found in several cultures and suits an international university. There were many good, apt reasons given for the name too, such as aiming for the stars,” says Åbo Akademi University’s Director of University Services Heidi Backman.

Gadolinia and Gado were also suggested. The jury considered this a worthy name that honours the chemist Johan Gadolin from Finland but felt that the name no longer represents the use of the building.

The Astra building is planned to be completed in early 2025. It will be part of the Stjärnan block as a whole, which, besides the new building, incorporates the Åbo Akademi University library’s Book Tower (Boktornet) and the School of Business and Economics. The name of the block, Stjärnan, originates from Carl Ludvig Engel’s plan for the city of Turku.

Astra will be a meeting place for the entire university, housing common functions such as advice and support, library services, a restaurant, a café, and spaces for teaching, group work and individual learning. The new property will be home to teaching in the social sciences.