Urbanization is one of the biggest challenges in the coming decades. Already, about half of the world's population lives in urban areas and by 2050 this figure will be two-thirds. Cities are running out of space and need for new ideas and solutions for sustainable urban development are needed.
Studies have shown that about 25 % of buildings are strong enough to withstand additional construction on top of them. Could the roof tops of today be plots for the future?
L Architects' proposal "Plug-In" introduces a concept that responses to this challenge. Future housing is something other than what we know today. Therefore, the structural solutions have to be adaptable. The conceptual idea of an adaptable housing units combined with standardized wooden structures are the solution to building a city above the city.
The Okhta Mall shopping centre, designed by L Architects and implemented by SRV, has been recognized with the respected European Property Award.
An international panel of over 60 experts awarded the Okhta Mall at the European Awards Gala in London on October 27th. The European Property Award is considered to be one of the most respected accolades in the real estate sector in Europe. In the competition, new properties are assesed from the aspects of architecture, real estate development, interior design and project marketing.
The shopping mall received recognition for the modern Scandinavian architecture as well as marketing and ecological consideration during planning and implementation. The Okhta Mall is the first shopping centre to receive a LEED Gold certificate in Russia.
The shopping centre opened its doors in August 2016. With a total floor area of 140 000 square meters, it is one of the largest shopping malls in St. Petersburg.
The Kokkola city center is soon to be in the midst of change, as the Rautatientori square and bus station area are to be developed into an urban block of housing and commercial space of ca 34.000 sqm. Our aim was to create a city structure that completes and enhances the existing scale and structure of Kokkola center. The new block is contemporary and recognisable, yet respectful of the surroundings.
In our proposal, new buildings of varying heights encircle a spacious green courtyard, with the curved walls of the parking building in the middle. Shops and restaurants will be on the side of the pedestrian street and the small square, bringing life to the city center. A hotel is located in the corner of the square. Apartments will be above commercial level, with a residential tower of 12 floors in the corner facing the nearby park. Between the tower and hotel there will be the new Events Center of Kokkola.
On 2 May 2016 the City of Järvenpää elected Lujatalo Oy to construct Perhelä Urban Centre, a new urban hub in the heart of Järvenpää. L Architects were responsible for the architectural planning of the winning proposal.
The planned complex combines a new type of central housing with services and comfort, and it is located right in the hearth of the city – in one of the central quarters, right next to the train station and in the end of one of the main pedestrian streets.
The core of the design is a walk-through block, easily recognized from all approachable directions, that creates a connection to the center of the city. Retail and office spaces are situated in two floors and a broad variety of approximately 400 rental and owner-occupied apartments are located above them. The buildings surrounding the block vary in height and they grow gradually higher. The towers of the building complex create a gate for the promenade and strengthen the identity of the pedestrian center. The new urban hub is planned to serve the wishes and needs of the Järvempää dwellers. The design of the complex emphasizes accessibility for all forms of movement: walking, cycling, public transport and use of cars. The projects ground floor will be open and cosy and the retail spaces will seamlessly become a part of the pedestrian zone. Events and pop-up activities can take place in the square-like courtyard during all seasons.
Of the new block approximately 10.300 sqm will be in commercial and 24.800 sqm in residential use. The complex in designed according to the principles of sustainable development, taking advantage of innovative energy efficiency solutions. The Perhelä Urban Centre therefore crowns the long-term development plan of Järvenpää downtown area.
– The location next to lake Tuusulanjärvi, the train connections together with great investments in the development of the city center makes Järvenpää indisputably the most interesting place in Central Uusimaa, states Olli Keto-Tokai, Director of Economic Affairs in Järvenpää.
– Implementation of the Perhelä block will be a significant project for Lujatalo Oy. The project follows Lujatalo's business strategy, which is to invest more in large development projects. The Perhelä complex is Lujatalo's biggest investment so far, with a prize of 130-160 M euros, says Heimo Hantula, Regional Director at Lujatalo.
– Lujatalo sees Järvenpää as an interesting center of growth in the future. Järvenpää is connected via the main rails to the job market in the metropolitan area, and the city being green and distinctive makes it an attractive residential city. I believe that Perhelä will become a success for both us and the city of Järvenpää, says Jari Kalma, Project leader at Lujatalo.
The planning of the Perhelä complex will start immediately and the construction is predicted to start in the fall of 2017. The opening ceremony of the business center is planned to take place in the end of 2019.
SRV Group Plc, Sanoma Corporation and City of Vantaa wanted fresh new ideas for the development of a future business campus. Our proposal, Futurama, won the open idea and concept competition seeking solutions for the development of such a campus in Vantaankoski area.
We believe that people want to do things in new, better ways, they want to see possibilities and implement ideas. This must be given space, as opposed to regulating everything strictly. In our proposed business campus concept, there is always room for wonderful things to happen. Campus is built through co-creating and in an organic way, without predetermined land-use plans. Space is seen as a service, the value of buildings is created through use of the space. The whole campus is a platform for activity, and 1:1 laboratory for its residents.
In addition to L Architects team members, our multidisciplinary team consisted of futurist Elina Hiltunen, working life researcher Suvi Nenonen, and transportation planner Jouni Ikäheimo. They helped us to broaden our horizons and see all the possibilities of tomorrow!
More about the competition: The New Vantaankoski idea competition.
The City of Helsinki wants to make Vartiosaari into an energy efficient and ecological district prototype, which respects the surrounding nature. The aim of the competition was to find a novel residential concept and the jury awarded L Architects' proposal with a purchase.
"When you start to feel the proximity of the city, it is like coming home"
Our proposal presents a dense and down-town-like district, adapted to the islands natural landscape. The small-town-like milieu creates a safe and cozy environment. The core of the proposal is the interaction between people and the sense of community: the space between the buildings is for everyone, regardless of the means of transport. The shared space is brought to life by "activators": small functional places or spaces that bring people together. Common spaces and shared services are the heart of the residential buildings and the courtyards. The keynote for the project: Less distance – more common.
L Architects' Helsingin Kuunari apartment buildings were awarded with the "Kestävä Kivitalo" award, a price given for constructing durable brick and concrete buildings. The Kuunari project consist of three five-storey single-stair buildings and a parking garage connecting them.
The jury stated following about the project:
"The architectural implementation has successfully considered the maritime surroundings. Buildings are sending a message with the use of durable materials, meant to last for ages, but still the overall visual appearence is classy and light due to modern architectural style. Floor plans are well thought through and they take the advantage of views in an excellent way."
"Varying yet harmonious colours fit well into it's maritime surroundings during all seasons."
"The durability, comfortability and affortability during the building's entire life cycle have been taken well in consideration in the design. The design process benefit from BIM which is still rarely used in housing design."
The "Kestävä Kivitalo" award is given to a person and a group of people that have participated in constructing high-quality on-site brick and concrete buildings. The projects lead designer was Mari Ille from our office, and Rakennusosakeyhtiö Hartela Ltd. was responsible for the construction.
Haven Kakumäe Ltd. arranged an international invitational competition to develop Kakumäe district's marina in Tallinn. The competition sought to find a solution that would merge the diverse services of the marina and the existing structures and create a natural and attractive area.
L Architects were awarded with the third price with its proposal "Antikythera". The competition entry got its name from an ancient clock mechanism found in the outskirts of a Greek seaport. The device was used to predict the movement of astronomical objects.
In our proposal residential and service buildings surround the marina and therefore create a safe haven. The seaside boulevard and the track surrounding the seaport are creating pedestrian-friendly urban space in the new heart of Kakumäe. Antikythera introduces a new way of living next to the waterfront, this concept literally brings boating to your front door.
Estradi 1 achieved the highest scoring level in LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) evaluation system, being only the 13th building in Finland to reach LEED Platinum. Both the design and the certification process were carried out by L Architects ltd.
Sustainability was tackled through extensive use of measures (such as diverted building site waste, locally sourced materials, water efficient landscaping, tenants design and construction guidelines, etc.) and devices (such as PV panels, Building Automation System, comprehensive metering, water efficient fixtures, etc.).
Moreover a strong focus was put on future tenants, in an effort to raise awareness and stimulate their involvement in sustainable building use. For example users are engaged through infografics, info screens in elevators, metering displays, environmental market events and specific communication about all the actions performed in the building.
L Architects' aim to add value to client's plans and foster sustainability has taken on big leap forward. We are launching today the Green Options (GO), a tool we developed to support projects in achieving the "greenest" possible result.
Through the GO Analysis, the project's green potential is mapped and concrete improvements are brought to the table. The first GO Analysis is conducted during the early concept development phase and culminates in the GO Report. Based on these outcomes, the client can make the decision on which options to implement and further investigate. Follow-up GO analyses are carried out and green solutions are implemented at every major stage of the project.
The GO tool evaluates the project against 20 different categories. Each category is measured on the scale: Weak - Average - Good - Excellent, or graphically from red to dark green. The aim is to bring the project as close as possible to 100% Excellent assessments (or 100% dark green hits).
The GO tool has already been used on several development projects and the goal is to use it in all L Architects´ design projects by 2020. LET'S GO!
On the Katajanokka peninsula, in Helsinki's city centre and just a stone's throw from Katajanokka harbour, stands a large and elegant building. As Kesko headquarters (one of the major players in the Finnish produce market) this building hosted meetings that would affect the lives of all Finns, and until very recently, it was the daily workplace of hundreds of people. This building of over 30,000 sqm was built in 1940, and originally served multiple functions: as an office, storage space, and even a factory. The facades were clad with dark brick, and would remain attractive even in the sooty air of the bustling harbour area. The tall and iconic chimney stack at one corner stands as a reminder of this history.
Fast forward to the 21st century, and the air is clear. A fresh sea breeze awaits the lucky new residents of this former headquarters building, as it is now being converted into more than 100 apartments and hotel accommodation. The new apartments will be as unique and exceptional as the building itself, including many two-storey apartments with one particular apartment opening up onto the inner courtyard through a row of 12 windows. All units will feature a flexible open plan layout; with the wet areas fixed in one place, and the other spaces freely configurable from two to six rooms, depending on the individual resident's needs.
Project plans have just been submitted for the building permitting process, and the current aim is for new residents to occupy the building as early as 2017. The penthouse units will feature roof terraces with magnificent views over the city centre: a panorama including Helsinki Cathedral, the orthodox Uspenski Cathedral, the Market Square, and of course, the sea.
L Architects and its Sustainability Service team were invited to give two lectures during this spring term at Aalto University.
Daniela Grotenfelt is going to guest lecture the Creative Sustainability Master course. Her subject is an approach that is quite new in Finland: How to promote sustainability at the master planning level, also by using LEED and BREEAM certification for urban scale developments. A case study is our winning competition entry in Porvoo.
Francesco Allaix is going to visit the Sustainable Building Design course, to talk about commercial buildings and green certifications. Focus is on the selling point as well as on the sustainability; how LEED and BREEAM certification improve a property and what aspects of sustainability interest different clients. Case studies come from our projects in Finland and Russia.
Pearl Plaza Shopping Center in St Petersburg has earned the Silver level in LEED, and it is the first shopping center in Russia to achieve a LEED Silver-level certification*.
Pearl Plaza Shopping Center, opened to business in September 2013, was designed by L Architects and built by SRV Development. It is a cornerstone of the new neighbourhood Baltic Pearl, a mixed use development of 200 hectares, 1,76 million m2 and 35000 future residents.
Shopping Center consists of four floors above ground and an underground parking. The total gross area of 96 000 square meter includes a hypermarket, shops, restaurants, cinemas and entertainment zones. Several sustainable features (including electricity from renewable energies and an extensive Building Automation Systems covering lighting, heating, ventilation) contributed in delivering a very efficient building, according to LEED Energy Performance.
Two well measurable indicators of a building's impact on the ecosystem are water and energy consumption. The following accomplishments were evaluated by the LEED CS certification, and achieved through design features and energy simulation:
• 28% reduction of water use Equivalent to saving 1,3 Olympic-size swimming pools of water per year**
• 18% reduction of energy consumption Equivalent to saving almost 400.000 € per year**
* according to the list of LEED register projects in USGBC webpage
** Compared to LEED baseline, rating per ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2007
Our sporty and spry staff often does activities together outside the office hours. Sometimes it's a bicycle journey, sometimes a big sports event. This year, for the first time, Team L Architects took part in the Midnight Run Helsinki, a 10 000 runner strong 'fun run' through Helsinki city centre. A beautiful late summer night provided ideal conditions for our nine participants, with all reaching the 10k goal in good spirits, some slightly faster than the others...
Our proposal "Jokivartinen" ('By the River') was recognized with a purchase in an open competition with 63 proposals. City of Vaasa organized the competition in late 2013, to develop the eastern edge of city centre along the seashore. The site was formerly occupied by the Horse Racing Venue, but the future will feature a versatile and ecological residential quarter that naturally extends the urban city fabric.
In our proposal the residential zone follows the curve of a new man-built canal, and the urban structure reinterprets the traditional closed city block theme. The grand courtyards are surrounded by townhouses, terraced houses and apartment buildings. Houseboats can be moored along the canal, and in the heart of the project lie the amenities such as a kindergarten and senior housing. The underpinning theme for the new residential area is a new central park which connects the existing parks, seashore, and new canal into a cohesive whole. This upcoming string of parks will become a new meeting point for Vaasa residents, even worth a visit from farther afield.
Our competition proposal 'Slottgården' ('Castle Garden') received first prize in a competitive tendering competition set up by the City of Porvoo. The focus of the competition was to develop Aleksanterinkaari, a curved plot on the edge of city center, as an energy efficient, innovative and ecologically sound new residential node in the expanding city. The 1,3 hectare site sits on the west side of River Porvoo, and will shortly feature 240 new apartments and 45 assisted-living apartments, a total of 17 000 gross m2 of residential construction. Our developer/ constructor partner in the competition was Pohjola Rakennus Oy.
Our annual field excursion saw the whole office at a residential project of ours in Herttoniemi. We then sailed back along the archipelago and city shores. The Finnish summer day was uncharacteristically wet and cool, but the mood inside the small ship was not dampened. Good views, good food and good times were had by the whole bunch.
We hope our Earth will be going strong in another thousand years. To have air to breathe, dry land to build on. That's why our office backs efforts that support this kind of sustainable future. We take the train to our meetings in Russia whenever possible, but have also set up a video-conference system to cut down on business trips. We provide transportation discount coupons to encourage using public transport. We have a low-carbon, economical company car. Instead of sending out christmas cards, in recent years we have donated to the WWF. The lighting is changing to LED for lower energy consumption. We recycle and sort out our waste, use FSC certified paper and try to cut down paper usage.
Since 2013 we have also compensated our air and car travel CO2 emissions with the help of Nordic Offset Ltd. Our compensation supports a wind power project in Zhangbei, China.
In what kind of spaces and buildings will future office workers conduct their business? The "Corporate Real Estate & Property Management Summit! 2014" takes place next week at Messukeskus, where our Executive Director Harri Koskinen will have his turn at the podium. Topics shall range from doing business in a rocking chair, where the HVAC ducts should run, can carrots be cultivated on the office rooftop, to why the CEO won't get the corner office.
Jari Lonka was invited to step up as our sixth Partner. He has had a long and influential stretch at the office, and is known as an all-around good guy and an excellent architect. His specialty is Urban Planning & Development, a subject which he also has taught at Aalto University.
Architect's task always begins with analysis. What, why, for whom. What kind of environment, what kind of future prospects. What is needed more of, what is not needed at all. How does it all function, how could it work even better. Jari Lonka, head of our Urban Planning & Development department, gave a lecture on the subject of Local context and identity, two cornerstones of design, in Sotkamo yesterday. The development seminar for Vuokatti (Sotkamo) tourism destination area focused on the forthcoming area master plan and development strategy.
We are no longer a young start-up, but we did take part in the Slush-conference. Even start-ups need walls and shelter. Skolkovo, Russia's answer to Silicon Valley, is under way near Moscow. The intention is to attract Russia's current and upcoming technology leaders, as well as foreign leaders and partners, into one campus. The technology campus will be a car-free and energy efficient city of the future. That is where we designed a new concept office building for SRV, a building that is fit for small enterprises, is ecological, easily adaptable, utilizes the latest technology, and where one can even pedal their bicycle all the way to their desk.