Urban Environment House , Helsinki
Location: Helsinki, Finland
Year: 2017 -
Total Area: 40,900m2
Client: City of Helsinki
Programme: Offices and public service facilities
- Will house the City of Helsinki’s urban environment departments
- Large arches open up the public or social areas
- Offers a noticeable transparency between the City and its citizens
- Combines specialised work spaces with open communal areas
- Looks to improve inter-departmental communication
The Urban Environment House looks to become home to Helsinki City’s urban environment departments – including the Housing Production Office, City Planning, Building Control and more. Around 1,500 employees will move to the offices in Kalasatama, Helsinki, putting the vast majority of the City’s urban departments under one roof.
The design of the offices themselves, produced by Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects, is evolved from preliminary designs of local firm JKMM Architects. Externally, the form and materiality of the building situates the new offices comfortably into its surroundings. The modest brick work alludes to the industrial history of the Kalasatama area, whilst the roofline follows that of the existing skyline – with the exception of recesses that open up into terraces. Large openings along the façade of the building follow a strict grid but, where more public or social areas present themselves, the grid is broken by vaulted arches. When connecting the offices and the public realm on the ground floor these impressive structures offer a noticeable transparency between the City and its citizens.
For the employees the offices spaces also offer a new dimension of interaction with colleagues and different departments. The different storeys and departments are interconnected by open staircases and communal spaces, around which are more specialised workspaces which allow employees to focus on their specific discipline. This new format hopes to help towards a more aware and open system of city management where cross-department communication is a natural process.
The building also follows a city-wide push towards a transition to a more bicycle orientated transport system, with 500 bike spaces for employees and the public.