Nordicum - Real Estate Annual Finland 2013 - Page 36

Photo: ALA Architects ltd ture – and the chairperson of the contest jury – says that the University was delighted to receive such a great number of entries. “After an initial examination, I can say that their standard is quite high,” adds Hyvönen. The aim of the competition is to create a vibrant and interactive environment for research and learning activities on Otaniemi campus where work, study, leisure and living are interwoven in a natural way. The idea is to create the foundation for “a university city of the future” right here. The designs should display a dynamic orientation towards the future with new and ecologically sustainable technical solutions. The objective of phase one was to design a functional campus centre that is both attractive and lively. The goal of phase two will be to design more detailed functional solutions for the buildings. The area which the competition is targeting is a large square, centrally located in Otaniemi to the west of the old Helsinki University of Technology main building (designed by Alvar Aalto himself). The main entrance of the future Otaniemi metro station will also be in the competition area. The largest user of the new facilities will be the School of Arts, Design and Architecture. Hi-Tech Super Hub There is plenty of action in the neighbourhood beyond Aalto University, as well. Otaniemi is the biggest hi-tech hub in Northern Europe with its 32,000 people and 800 companies – meaning that students don’t have to look very far for jobs. In fact, more and 34 Nordicum more of them are starting their own companies while still in school. Otaniemi creates between 40 to 70 new start-ups every year, pumping new blood into the Finnish business scene. According to experts, nowhere in the Nordic or Baltic States can one find a “brain concentration” to rival that of Otaniemi. And there are still people coming in: Finnvera, Finpro and Tekes – the main financiers/experts regarding innovation activities in Finland – will move into a joint facility in Otaniemi. An energy-efficient and innovative office building will be constructed from timber and it will be ready for use in 2015 or 2016. Growing Up Fast Mayor Jukka Mäkelä comments that having Finland’s most notable innovation operators move to Otaniemi further strengthens a development environment that is vitally important for Finland’s competitiveness on both national and international levels. The City wants to add to that competitive edge by developing the area and city planning in co-operation with Aalto University, the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, and businesses and other actors in the area. “It is our aim to create even better opportunities for universities, research centres, researchers, students, start-up companies and growth businesses to grow and go international,” Mäkelä says. It is no coincidence that the new HQ will be made of wood: recently, the City of Espoo, Aalto University and the Ministry of Employment and the Economy initiated a large-scale and long-term development project for timber construction and wood processing. One of the goals of the project is to turn T3 area into a versatile showroom for timber construction and wood expertise. Big Business Boost The final piece of the “innovation puzzle” is Keilaniemi, the corporate engine for the entire country. High-rise buildings are pretty much the norm here – with headquarters of such companies as Nokia, Kone and Fortum in attendance, offering a spectacular skyline to those driving to Espoo from Helsinki. The hi-tech corporate neighbourhood is waiting for the metroline to make the lives of the employees easier, but the metro extension is expected to spark residential construction as well. According to the master plan, Keilaniemi will soon feature four housing towers with 27–35 storeys each, reaching 100 metres. The area in question will include almost 80,000 square metres of residential building volume, and will add a completely new element to the area, revitalising also the shoreline with activities and services. Furthermore, Tapiola will be linked to Otaniemi in an unprecedented manner as a “green deck” is used to cover Ring Road I. Figuring out traffic arrangements with metro and the new buildings all at once is no small challenge, but Antti Mäkinen is confident this will be achieved in a satisfactory manner. “Once the metro is up and running, its impact will be held here, too – in a variety of ways.”