New era begins in Espoon keskus – old office buildings to be demolished

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2019-02-28 13:46

A thorough facelift of the area surrounding the station at Espoon keskus has begun. Once dominated by office buildings, the urban centre is now growing into a modern, inviting area filled with homes and workplaces, surrounded by a park and a new square decorated with art. In the future, the area will include new residential, business and office premises. This process will reach full speed after the old City Hall, already empty for a decade, can be demolished.

“The demolition is scheduled to start in spring 2019 if the Administrative Court rejects an appeal made against the demolition decision,” says Olli Isotalo, Director of Technical and Environment Services at the City of Espoo.

“The area will evolve into a versatile, comfortable, modern urban centre. New residential premises and high-quality routes for pedestrians and cyclists will be built along excellent traffic and public transport connections.”

First new apartment building already rising

New housing construction has already begun on the northern side of the station, using a residential block plan that won an architecture competition. The block is owned by Hausia which will construct four apartment buildings next to the old City Hall set for demolition. The old cluster of office buildings will be replaced by homes for some 1,200 Espoo residents.

The blocks inner yard
Hausia builds blocks of flats next to Espoo railway station and good services. Photo: Hausia.

Kari Kiviluoma, CEO of Hausia, finds Espoo an interesting location for both home-buyers and those planning to invest in apartments.

“Espoo’s dispersed geography used to be considered a weakness. It has unquestionably turned into a strength. Espoo has several growth centres, and improved public transport connections enable the city to grow on many fronts simultaneously,” Kiviluoma says.

Hausia is expected to start constructing the second building in early 2019 and the third in late 2019.

The area behind the apartment block will be transformed into a comfortable park called Lakelanpuisto. Opportunities for recreation and outdoor activities are available in the nearby Espoonjoki river valley and its routes.

Idea sketch of Lakelanpuisto
Idea sketch of what Lakelanpuisto at the new residential quarter north of the railway may look like in the future framtiden (Maisema-arkkitehtitoimisto Näkymä Oy)

Art will light a new event and meeting place

A versatile location for events and encounters called the Vaakunatori square will be built next to the residential block. It will accommodate small outdoor events, market stalls, performances and other events. Artist Vesa-Pekka Rannikko’s sculpture Vuo will become the colourful landmark of the square and the centrepiece of a comfortable public space where Espoo residents can encounter each other. EMMA – Espoo Museum of Modern Art was consulted as an expert during the acquisition of the artwork.

Idea sketch of Vaakunatori
Idea sketch of what Vaakunatori at the new residential quarter may look like in the future framtiden (Maisema-arkkitehtitoimisto Näkymä Oy)

Built out of colourful metal nets, the round shape of Vuo will provide a pleasant contrast for the right-angled architecture surrounding the square. The colourful metal nets are placed at various distances from each other. When someone looks at the sculpture, the colours mix and merge, changing the overall colour of the sculpture depending on the direction of the eye. Its shape is open for interpretation, leaving room for opinions, perspectives and ideologies with no pre-defined answers.

The construction of the foundations of the square right next to the empty old Town Hall is going well. They will be completed by the end of 2019. The square and the first new apartment building will be completed around the same time in the spring of 2020.

The road next to the Vaakunatori square, Kirkkojärventie, will be refurbished and a granary located by the road and currently covered with tarpaulins will be elevated. The granary will be surrounded with a stone pavement and parking space for 160 bicycles.

A House dedicated to everyone in Espoo

In early 2018, the Espoo City Council decided on the construction of a new building called the Espoo House on the other side of the Vaakunatori square. In addition to office premises for city employees, the building will include services for Espoo residents – a Service Centre, cultural and business premises and versatile spaces for decision-makers and cooperation between the City and its residents.

Idea sketch of the Espoo House
Idea sketch of what the Espoo House may look like in the future (Architects Anttila & Rusanen Ltd)

A detailed plan of the Espoo House’s operations is in the making, and decisions on it will be made in early 2019. After this, the City of Espoo will hold an architecture competition to determine the building’s design. The construction is scheduled to begin in 2023, and the building will be opened in 2025.

Espoon keskus is the city’s renewing core

Located by the railway, Espoon keskus is Espoo’s heart. It is currently undergoing an extensive renewal. Espoon keskus combines excellent traffic connections, multiculturality and versatile and constantly improving services with a traditional Finnish cultural landscape. The area will become increasingly easy to reach in the future when a city rail link to central Helsinki and the fast rail connection to Turku, the “one-hour train”, become a reality.
 
“The development of Espoon keskus enables some 2,000 jobs to emerge in the area,” says Project Director Mikko Kivinen.
 
“Roughly 10,000 new residents are expected to move to Espoon keskus by 2050.”
 
Another development location in Espoon keskus is the Suviniitty area where new residential buildings of various shapes are being constructed. The construction of the Suviniitty neighbourhood will continue for approximately three years. Its new day care centre will probably be opened in 2020. The Suviniitty area is being developed to provide homes for about a thousand new residents by the next decade.

More Information:

Espoo.fi/Espoo Centre
Hausia.fi (in finnish)