RE Finland

Fix the Mix?

Mixed-use real estate is experiencing a convergence of technology, workplace design and urban planning

artikkelikuva: Fix the Mix?

Demonstrative impression: SRV


Disruption in real estate increasingly means that boundaries between live, work, and play are blurring. Rise of the sharing economy and new technologies – coupled with shifting generational expectations – push real estate towards convergence. We are presently seeing a situation where mixed-use developments are no longer a collection of disparate elements, but rather a future-focused, strategic response to market demands.

One driver in the evolution is the “war for talent,” the on-going race to attract and engage the best knowledge- workers. As a consequence, dense, diverse and flexible communities are being created – communities that integrate a variety of uses, ranging from residential and leisure to hospitality, retail and, of course, work.

Designer consultancy SmithGroup has observed that this convergence is not only about market sectors. According to Smith- Group’s report Convergence: The Future of Development, there used to be a disconnect between technology, workplace design and urban planning. Technologists were driven by a process that was iterative, disruptive and focused on being the first to market. In contrast, workplace designers and urban planners were a bit more deliberate. We are experiencing – for the first time in history – a situation where technology, workplace design and urban planning are converging.

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REDI

Spice It Up!

While coveted real estate was once defined by prime location, amenities have become the rising new value differentiator for various properties. Developers are competing to win tenants and investors by offering goldstar amenity packages, from sophisticated food and beverage offerings to co-working spaces, with pet amenities often being cited as the ultimate attraction that seals the deal.

At the district scale, developers understand that it’s all about the experience – and the major players are keen on transforming entire neighborhoods. In Finland, new shopping centers such as Helsinki-based Tripla and REDI do much more than ask you to come and shop – they invite you to skydive and surf.

In SmithGroup’s report, developers and landlords identified several critical attributes that must be addressed if a mixedused project is to be successful. These include hospitality focus, abundant natural light, excellent shared amenity spaces and on-site retail. The developers and landlords agreed that to be authentic, the new mixeduse must include at least three product types, with no product type accounting for more than 40-percent of the total, excluding projects that are dominated by any one market sector.

The split of uses also provides opportunities to share parking and minimize costs. For example, office and residential offer a complimentary combination of uses, as office users need parking from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., leaving parking available in the evenings and on weekends for residents.

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Tripla

Hunt the Hybrid

City of Helsinki and Senate Properties are trying their hand in the construction of new kind of mixed-use. A vacant lot in in the Sörnäinen district has been waiting for an action plan since the existing buildNordicum 35 ing (a 70’s public administration building) was torn down in 2017. Senate arranged a design + build competition for the property at Haapaniemenkatu 4 with an idea to go fully hybrid.

Anttinen Oiva architects and Skanska won the 1st prize in the Haapaniemenkatu 4 competition. The winning entry activates the street level and strengthens the natural connections to the surrounding area. The public character of the pedestrian and bike routes through the site is emphasized. The courtyard gathers together the sites of the “art block” and is stitched into the surrounding green structure; the urban entrance square enjoys the afternoon and evening sun.

In the winning entry, the multipurpose courtyard serves as a place for rest and recreation both for the residents, and for those working and studying in the block. The yard adapts to the needs of the users and provides opportunities for spontaneous events and activities of different sizes. The concrete platforms within the vegetation transform into stages, terraces, summer kitchens or outdoor gallery spaces. The diverse, lush vegetation creates a pleasant microclimate and allows for an enjoyable passage throughout the seasons.

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View from 1st prize-winning competition proposal ”Vannas”.
Photo: Anttinen Oiva arkkitehdit Oy

Fresh Mindset

The winning entry honors the valuable architecture of the area in an outstanding way, explains Perttu Pulkka, architect for the City of Helsinki and member of the competition jury. Pulkka calls the building-to-be the first hybrid building in Helsinki that has been built from scratch. Construction on the lot is likely to kick off during 2021.

“We’ve had hybrid buildings before, but not a new building like this that has been designated as a hybrid from the start.” The first two floors will feature stores with street-level access (where applicable), the middle floors will feature offices and the top floors apartments.

Pulkka reveals that the City of Helsinki is on a quest to find more pilot projects to promote this type of mixed-use development. “We feel that the hybrid type is a great fit for compact, complementary construction, so our aim is to increase hybrid typology in the city.”

”Hybrid Helsinki” may well be in the cards in 2020’s, since Central Europe has long had a tradition of mixing it up. Pulkka mentions Rotterdam as one city that features solid hybrid examples, such as MVRDV’s the Markthall and OMA’s Timmerhuis complex.

“It’s good to keep in mind, however, that a hybrid building doesn’t have to be a landmark building as such,” he adds.

Text by Sami J. Anteroinen

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View from 1st prize-winning competition proposal ”Vannas”.
Photo: Anttinen Oiva arkkitehdit Oy

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View from 1st prize-winning competition proposal ”Vannas”.
Photo: Anttinen Oiva arkkitehdit Oy

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