“At present, we are focusing on commercial centers and office buildings,” explains Mariitta Helineva, one of the leading architects of Helin & Co. “Thanks to our experience and our qualified team members, we are able to accomplish even the most complex projects, for example including underground metro or bus stations or the combination of housing solutions and commercial centers. Our latest project is the Kalasatama district, the old harbour area of Helsinki. Here, we are working on a commercial center, six housing towers, one hotel and an office tower. Of course, such a complex job is a challenge, but we are passionate about challenges. Here, we have to integrate parking spaces and metro stations.”
Attached to the city of Helsinki, the new area is expected to be quite charming, conveying the atmosphere of the old harbour life. As there are many towers involved, the new complex will be another hallmark of Helsinki’s landscape. The housing concept includes modern and open homes with much glass involved and excellent views of the sea. The whole area will be very green, too.
“The first stage of the project will include the commercial centre and the first housing tower,” explains Ms. Helinca. “It is expected to be finished by 2018.”
Founded over 50 years ago by Pekka Helin, the current owner of Helin & Co. Architects, the company has a long reference list featuring many renowned names and projects. One of its early successes was the new Nokia head office in Finland in the middle of the 1990s. In 2004, the company re-modelled the entire parliament building in Helsinki. The last phase of construction will be finished in 2016.
Sustainability, materials and technology
As it mainly works for big Finnish companies and major construction enterprises, Helin & Co. has always taken sustainability into account, even before it became a public issue.
“We use many different materials such as glass, steel, wood and aluminium,” says Ms. Helineva. “Our solutions are creative and we always try to reach a new level when we do a new building, for example, by using new materials or technologies or by offering flexible spaces. Technology is definitely one of our drivers. We always try to integrate sustainable and technical aspects, such as acoustics and lights. At the end of the day, we want to give our clients more than they ordered. We want to surprise them. For example, recently, we did the new head office of UPM, a major paper and pulp company from Helsinki. We went through the whole project hand in hand with UPM and became part of their world. This is typical for us.”
So far, Helin & Co. has focused on the domestic market. Here, the renowned company benefitted strongly from word-of-mouth advertising and hardly needed any marketing. Lately, the architects have taken their first steps abroad and completed projects in Norway and China.
“We have designed a competition-winning entry to reuse a former airport area, Fornebu in Norway,” explains Ms. Helineva. “In China, we took on a complex housing project. In the future we would like to enhance our international activities and take part in more international competitions. In Europe, Germany is an interesting market. Abroad, China offers promising perspectives. Yet, the market is a challenge. But as I said earlier: We are passionate about challenges.”