The Ministry of the Environment moved to renovated premises at Aleksanterinkatu 7 in central Helsinki. The renovation transformed the maze-like building into a bright and modern working environment, in which the old and the new come together gracefully. The primary theme of the renovation was energy-efficient premises. This was the Ministry’s way of reflecting its commitment to reducing its ecological footprint. Other key objectives were improving space utilization and creating premises that support new ways of working.
Interior design focused on durability, recycling and ecology. Attention was paid even to the production processes of floorings’ materials. Everything needed to have a low environmental impact and be recyclable. Even the acoustic panels in the retreating spaces are made from corn starch, so they can decompose when they reach the end of their life.
Pre-existing furniture was utilized as much as possible. The Ministry owned a variety of classic pieces from different periods including Aalto, Kukkapuro, Tapiovaara and Billnäs, but they were scattered around the office. The work of each designer was grouped together, and around them break rooms were designed that draw inspiration from various eras. We used the classic furniture in the communal areas, lobbies, conference rooms and the staff café on the top floor. Some pieces of furniture were upholstered and renovated as required.
The meeting center of the Ministry is located in an underground floor, so it was challenging to get rid of the gloomy atmosphere when there was no chance of bringing in natural light. This was solved by placing big, backlighted screens that had their own pictorial landscapes into each of the conference rooms. Nature was also brought into the ground floor lobby with an enormous plant wall, and it is a fitting place to hold press conferences, for example.
Along with the new office, the Ministry’s space utilization became more efficient and the carbon footprint decreased when private rooms were exchanged for the multifunctional office model. Furthermore, the spaces have been designed in a sustainable manner, so when there is a need to replace old furniture, they can be recycled with a high rate.
The project was carried out in collaboration with experts from Senate Properties.