Renovation Project that Changed Iso Paja’s Character
The Iconic Public Radio’s Interior Was Modernised and Transformed into Flexible Office Spaces
Iso Paja is a well-known sight at the heart of Länsi-Pasila. When Yle (Finnish National Broadcasting Company) decided to move out of their headquarters, our architects were presented with a challenging and inspiring task: how to change the old radio and tv studios into modern offices while respecting the essence of this iconic building?
Ilmo Valjakka was the original architect of Yle’s headquarters. The building was completed in 1993, and it was the epitome of modern and high-quality standards of building at the time. However, the passage of time has left its mark on building’s interior spaces and they needed updating.
Our goal was to bring the original building up to date in a way that would reflect the building’s original strengths by paying special attention to floor plans and interior design. The project started in July of 2016, and in May 2018, the building was finished and ready to receive its new tenants, the VR Group.
Tight Schedules are a Challenge in Large Projects
Tight timetables are usually the biggest challenge in projects of a certain size: regardless of a decision-making process that can take its own sweet time, the deadlines always remain firmly in place. That was the reason L Architects needed to make sure they had reinforcement troops available to be called in at a moment’s notice.
“One of the advantages of a big office is that additional designers are to be found from among our own ranks. As a stroke of good luck would have it, at that particular time we happened to have a project in the neighbourhood that had just been completed and we were able to move a whole team of designers to this new project. The new team was quickly retasked and cleared to work on Yle’s headquarters and the transfer was seamless”, says Niklas Sucksdorff, the L Architects’ project manager.
Our office was tasked with heading the architectural part of the project for the Yle ex headquarters (owned by its Pension Fund), and we were responsible for the interior design of both the Pension Fund’s own office spaces and the spaces they shared with the old Yle HQ. The interior design of shared spaces was done in collaboration with Workspace, an interior design outfit which did the VR Group office design as well. The result was a coherent, harmonious and fresh design of all indoor spaces.
From Maze to Open Space – Flexible Multipurpose Spaces Provide for Variety of Different Users
The old office arrangement was changed into adjustable and multipurpose spaces that can be shared between different users. The maze-like warren of cubicles was removed and individual offices’ walls torn down, thus opening up spaces and almost doubling the number of work stations. Both the owners and the future tenants were a part of the design team from the very beginning.
The interiors were changed drastically and thoroughly. There was a lot of old studios in the building, and those were made into meeting rooms. The building’s interior HVAC, light and AV machines were also brought up to code. “We also dealt with the glass roof that had been leaking water into the lobby, even if that particular item was not the part of the original contract.” said Sucksdorff. The building’s outdoor machinery was renewed as well. We increased the number of HVAC engines on the roof, but positioned in such a way that they are practically hidden from sight.
Respecting Building’s History and Creating Inviting Working Environment
Iso Paja’s historical dignity was honoured and preserved while changing its interior to a thoroughly modern, inviting and user-friendly working space.
The view from the lobby opens onto an inner courtyard, a fountain, a grove and the lush greenery of Kesäkatu street. “This renovation project has changed the building’s workplace culture profoundly. Opening up the food court spaces to anybody who wants to come in for a bite – I think it’s great!”, Sucksdorff says.
The lobby has quieted down since the footfall to and from between various spaces had been directed toward more logical paths. We also added recessed booths to the auditorium walls to offer calmer and more private atmosphere for meetings or working in peace.
Iso Paja / VR Group New Headquarters
Location: Pasila, Helsinki
Size: 23 700 gr sqm
Client: Yle Pension Fund
Original designer: Ismo Valjakka; completed in 1993.