Vaasan kaupunki

Vaasa City Hall – A respectful change to the old, prestigious property turned it into an interface for modern work

Vaasa City Hall has undergone many changes over the course of its 160 years. The beautiful building was completed in the 19th century and originally used as a pharmacy and residential building, but the latest round of modifications turned it into an office building that serves modern work, and the aim is for it to remain in use for versatile work over the next 160 years, too.

When the prestigious property designed by regional architect C. A. Setterberg underwent renovation in 2016, it was clear that more than just superficial work was needed to convert the building into an activity-based environment that could meet the demands of modern work. Work to modernise the building involved extensive renovations of the building services and structures. There were also some solutions in the old building that could not be changed, although there was no desire to alter them. The aim was for work to be carried out with respect for the old building, improving conditions and bringing them into the present day.

Photos: Mikael Matikainen, Vaasan kaupunki

Smooth work and wellbeing through changes to working methods and work spaces

Alongside the renovation work to the building, a wide-reaching workplace development project was also held in Vaasa with the city’s staff. This meant an open review of the working methods and work spaces from a smooth work and wellbeing approach. The change was implemented with consideration for the prerequisites for the operating culture. As a result, the number of staff that could be placed in City Hall rose by half of the previous number. Design of the working methods and operating model also considered occupational safety, such as customer meetings taking place in the designated areas.

“Our working methods are on their way to an activity-based model. We chose the golden middle road, where units have their own dedicated spaces. Not having our own named work points is a big change for us,” says Marjo Mäki-Krekola, Vaasa City’s corporate administration manager, of the new selected model.

Photos: Mikael Matikainen, Vaasan kaupunki

“It’s easy to try out new working methods here, from drop-in points to hybrid meetings and collaborative innovation. We have the opportunity to take things a little slower, to rest and recuperate.”
- Corporate administration manager Marjo Mäki-Krekola

A space-supporting digital workplace and long-term change

In addition to identifying spaces, the need to develop a digital workplace was also identified in order to make work smoother and to improve social interaction. Functional digital solutions are a prerequisite for successful activity-based work. It was also understood that the change does not come from new walls and digital technology alone; it requires effort from management and the organisation. Luckily, the renovation project spanned years, which enabled sufficiently long-term investment in these areas.  

City Hall underwent a functional transformation and emerged on the other side as a beautiful and harmonious activity-based office. The building’s particular architecture and special features were highlighted, such as the ornate stairwells, which are reflected in the acoustic surfaces and decorative tape on glass walls. The different colours that have featured throughout the building’s history were highlighted with a dignified and serene colour palette.

Photos: Mikael Matikainen, Vaasan kaupunki