Nordicum - Real Estate Annual Finland 2015 - Page 39

Photos: Verstas Architects Photos: Verstas Architects Aalto the Audacious Aalto University spearheads the development of Otaniemi There are big things in store for Aalto University and its environs in Otaniemi, Espoo. First of all, Aalto University is looking to build a true main campus to fully reflect its reputation as “the innovation university”. The cornerstone in these plans is the new metrostation – to be launched in late 2016 – which will push connectivity into a high gear for sure. The metro will spark up also R&D and corporate activities in the area, as well as residential solutions, says Kari Kontturi, Managing Director of Aalto University Properties. “T he starting point is that the core campus itself consists of 250,000 square metres, R&D functions and companies add 200,000 square metres and housing rounds up the picture with 200,000 square metres. We are, however, looking to advance on all these fronts,” Kontturi says. The university is pulling all the stops to create a world-class campus, with a new hallmark building leading the way. Having won a tough international architectural contest, Väre (designed by Finnish agency Verstas Architects) provides the unique solution the university was looking for all along – in fact, the winning entry sets a new standard for future university learning environments also within the international arena. Stay True Kari Kontturi assesses that the winning entry and the entire surrounding process have relied in interaction and true dialogue in an unprecedented way. “While zoning issues are sometimes hard to figure out, we have stayed true to the original concept and that is exactly what will be built,” he promises. In fact, preparatory work has already been started on the site, making way for real construction which is scheduled to start in summer 2015. “If the building were to be finished in 2017, that would be a fine addition to Finland’s centennial celebration,” he adds. In addition to the new building – known as Arts Building – there will be a shopping centre (7,000 sqm), as well, linking with the metro station. “We feel that Otaniemi is also a great area to pilot new retail concepts, so there might be something a little different here,” Kontturi says. Red Carpet Treatment As new real estate is being raised, the University is letting go of many of its old properties. Currently there are 10,000 square metres of free space that Aalto is releasing for other use, but the University seeks to increase that number to 45,000–50,000 sqm by 2021. “This is no fringe real estate, but properties located very close to the core campus. We expect that a significant part of the space will be used by companies,” Kontturi says, adding that Aalto would very much like to facilitate a “corporate immigration” to the neighbourhood. Even though Otaniemi is a respected brand of the academic/corporate world, there’s so much more one could still achieve: “We have a situation here that provides the right location, the right people and the right story,” Kontturi says, referring to the Otaniemi legacy of doing things together. “What we can provide is easy and open interaction that is sure to benefit companies big and small.” Living It Up A key part of this emerging ecosystem is the residential element. Otaniemi does not wish to be a “silent satellite” where all life flees around five o’clock – and therefore up to 7,500 new residents by the year 2025 are in the plans for the area. “This means adding an extra 300,000 square metres of residential construction, a good part of it right by the sea,” Kontturi envisions. Around 10 % of the new residential would be student dormitories. Nordicum 37