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  • A glimmer of gold, decorative painting and smart solutions – Sponda modernises lobbies in 20 valuable properties

A glimmer of gold, decorative painting and smart solutions – Sponda modernises lobbies in 20 valuable properties

The goal of the massive modernisation is to make lobbies in valuable properties in the centre of Helsinki more functional and impressive. Historic commercial properties also increase the attractiveness of the city centre.

It is hard to believe that this is the same space as before. The Keskuskatu 6 entrance leading to office and commercial facilities in the Citycenter shopping centre in the centre of Helsinki has undergone a complete transformation.

The modernisation of the Citycenter lobby focused on impressive spatial solutions and details, as well as on the construction of clear service pathways. The golden ceiling and Moooi Raimond’s large but lightweight lamps catch the attention in Keskuskatu 6. Images: Trium

The narrow corridor has opened up into an impressive entrance lobby, with a glamorous golden element decorating the ceiling. Large design lights and the shiny travertine floor add luxury to the space.

Arkadia 6 offers equally impressive experiences. The new main lobby, modernised during a complete property renovation, is described as the most magnificent office building lobby in the city – and with good reason.

Lobby spaces in Arkadia 6 were modernised during the property renovation project, and other facilities were completed alongside the lobby project. The grand main lobby has been called the most magnificent office building lobby in the city. The lobby was modernised by architecture firm Tengbom.

A lobby is also an entrance to the company brand

The goal of Sponda’s massive lobby project is to remodel the lobby spaces of valuable properties in the centre of Helsinki and bring them up-to-date to meet modern demands and user needs. Launched a year ago, the project involves more than 20 properties, of which 16 have already been completed.

As businesses in the city centre are typically leaders in their respective fields, this project also indicates what leading businesses are looking for in their lobby spaces.

“As a large real estate owner, it’s our responsibility to develop and maintain Helsinki’s premium properties, and cherish their architectural and cultural value. The improved functionality will also produce significant added value for our customers,” says Tom Martonen, project leader and Sponda’s Senior Vice President, explaining the motivation behind the extensive project.

The former metro station entrance in Vilhonkatu was transformed into a space that is on a par with the value of the building and ideal for an office building. The entrance was furnished with new doors to match the design of the facade, as well as a new vestibule. Image: Synopsis

Martonen finds that it is increasingly important for companies that their lobby spaces reflect the same atmosphere, style and quality of service as the rest of the spaces in unique buildings. A lobby is also an entrance to the company brand.

As a large real estate owner, it’s our responsibility to develop Helsinki’s premium properties and cherish their architectural and cultural value.

“As businesses in the city centre are typically leaders in their respective fields, this project also serves as a more general benchmark for what leading businesses are looking for in their lobby spaces.”

Original colours were restored in the historically significant Pohjoinen Makasiinikatu lobby. Handrails were also renovated and entrance doors were designed according to original drawings. A carpet to match the original marble rubber flooring was found from an Italian manufacturer. Images: Synopsis

Visual and functional changes

Juha Viiala, project manager at Sponda who has coordinated the practical side of the project, admits that this modernisation of valuable properties has called for perseverance. 

Representing modern architecture, Fabianinkatu 21 received a glazed facade opening up onto the street. The style of the 1980s was replaced by original facade details in the entrance. Accessibility was also improved. Image: Synopsis

“Many of these properties are protected, which means that permit processes have taken time from the design and construction schedule. We have also wanted to restore the spaces while closely respecting the original architecture.”

Viiala sees that the project’s value comes not only from visual changes, but also from functional changes that improve wellbeing at work.

The lobby spaces of Fennia’s historic building underwent a modernisation that highlights architecture and improves functionality. The glorious 19th-century palace was furnished with lighting fixtures that highlight the magnificent details, a desk that improves ergonomics and new lobby furniture. Images: Trium   

“Accessibility and the ease of navigation have been among the key improvements. As permitted by the original architecture, historic properties now feature remotely controlled lifts, adjustable service desks, programmed information screens and smart reception, intercom and access control solutions.”

A significant part of the visiting experience

The new lobbies were designed and built by two architecture firms specialising in demanding restoration projects: Trium Architects and Synopsis Architects. According to Ilkka-Antti Hyvärinen, principal designer for Trium’s properties, the value of lobby spaces has long been misunderstood in Finland.

Vuorikatu entrances leading to the Fennia block were modernised using valuable materials and a detailed lighting design. Already when approaching the entrance, visitors understand that they are stepping into one of the most impressive valuable blocks in Helsinki. Images: Trium

“Lobbies have been seen merely as passageways. The trend is now to make lobbies welcoming both visually and functionally – and not just in historic buildings. Inviting and visually impressive entrances also add to the appeal of the city centre as a whole,” says Hyvärinen.

The new valuable office entrances in Citycenter indicate that the shopping centre is home to more than 20,000 square metres of first-class office spaces. The Kaivokatu 6 entrance was relocated to the facade level. All entrances received a numbered street address. Image: Trium

Mikael Haasmaa, CEO of Synopsis, also highlights the significance of lobby spaces as part of good visiting experiences.

“The entrance is usually the place that makes an impression on visitors. Still, we should remember that the lobby is always part of a larger whole, consisting of the built urban environment, the building itself and the materials used.”

The new ceiling structure, lighting fixtures and green decorative elements add comfort and warm tones to the Kaivokatu 6 lobby. All Citycenter lobbies are also ready to accommodate the smart technological solutions of the future. Images: Trium

Adding value to the entire city

According to Haasmaa, the most important purpose of lobby spaces is to help visitors find their way.

“Spaces must be intuitive. The main door must stand out from other entrances, and the shape, furniture and details of the lobby space must guide visitors so that they can use the space correctly.”

Hyvärinen and Haasmaa are both satisfied with Sponda’s approach and leadership in the lobby project.

Information screens and other technological solutions have been integrated, while respecting the original architecture. The harmonious suspended ceiling and the materials and tones that match the red granite create a peaceful atmosphere in the Erottajankatu lobby. Image: Synopsis

“Sponda has given us the freedom to carry out the renovations purely on the terms of the buildings and their architecture. The construction projects have involved painstaking, but ultimately invisible, conservation work, which is crucial for preserving the history and value of the properties. Sponda is paying an amazing tribute with this project to Helsinki as a city, its architecture and its people”, Hyvärinen concludes.

Visit the spaces – some lobbies are also open to the public!

All the properties included in Sponda’s lobby project are situated in Helsinki city centre. The most impressive transformations have been carried out in: Arkadiankatu 6, Kaivokatu 6 and 8 B, Keskuskatu 6 E, Mikonkatu 17 A, Vilhonkatu 5, Vuorikatu 14 A and B, Pohjoinen Makasiinikatu 3 and 5, Fabianinkatu 21, Unioninkatu 20–22 and Kasarmikatu 36.

Some of the lobby spaces, such as Arkadia 6, the three lobbies in Citycenter (Kaivokatu 6 and 8 B and Keskuskatu 6E), and the main lobby of Fennia’s building in Mikonkatu 17 are also open to the public. The lobby spaces will be finalised during this autumn, and the entire project is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Do you want to visit the modernised lobbies and Sponda’s facilities in the city centre? Contact us >>

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