Aurum brings the universities of Turku under one roof and provides a setting for innovations tackling climate change

The Aurum project has been guided by sustainable development goals from the very beginning, thanks to which the planning phase has already been awarded the BREEAM environmental certificate. Strategic partnership and cooperation have been the keys to success.

The facilities of Åbo Akademi University’s Faculty of Science and Engineering had reached the end of their service life and no longer met the needs of modern, cutting-edge research. At the same time, new facilities were being sought for the Department of Chemistry at the University of Turku. The old facilities were scattered around the campus, and there was a desire to centralise functions to better serve the users.  

The universities made a resource-wise decision to join forces. The modern multi-user building Aurum will be erected on Yliopistonmäki in Turku, creating facilities for top-level research and cooperation between the two universities. Together, education and research in the field of chemistry will be taken to an even higher level. The building will be completed in the spring of 2021 and opened in the following autumn. 

Saraco, which became a part of Sweco in October 2020, has been responsible for the project management, development and supervision of the Aurum project from the outset. University Properties of Finland (SYK) wanted a partner for the project who offers a strong strategic vision in addition to technical expertise. 

‘We sought a partner with a broad strategic understanding for the needs assessment and project assessment phases. We wanted an operator who would, in addition to serving as a traditional developer consultant, understand the big picture of the project’s goals, such as the collaboration needs of the universities. The goals were set high,’ says Kimmo Mäkelä, Project Manager at SYK. 

In the Aurum project, Sweco has also been responsible for HVAC design and structural design.  

Project guided by principles of sustainable development 

Aurum is a sustainable project. According to Mäkelä, SYK is committed to ensuring that all its properties are sustainable in the long run from a human, environmental and economic perspective. 

Pasi Pohjaranta, Project Manager of Saraco’s Aurum project, says that the principles of sustainable development will be realised in Aurum in the use of renewable energy, for example. The building will utilise geothermal and solar energy, and its thermal insulation will be first-class. Waste heat generated in the laboratories will be harnessed with efficient heat recovery. 

From the outset, the goal has been to reach the second highest rating, Excellent, of the BREEAM environmental certificate. So far, there are only a few buildings with the Excellent rating in Finland. An Excellent certificate has already been granted for the planning phase, and the same rating is currently being applied for for the construction phase. 

In addition to the fact that a tangible and measurable goal is good PR for the project, according to Mäkelä, it helps the project partners focus on the right things. 

‘The environmental goals are a tool to guide the planning and ensure its quality. The goals being monitored and measured draw the attention of the planners and the entire project organisation to the right things.’ 

Good cooperation is the key to success 

Aurum was an exceptionally challenging project, especially in terms of building services. The building has a lot of laboratory space, various research equipment and facilities for handling chemicals, for example. The project has been highly user-oriented. 

‘We needed more thorough initial data than usual. User involvement was absolutely pivotal. For example, we worked to determine what the purpose for each function was,’ Pohjaranta says.  

According to Pohjaranta and Mäkelä, the challenging project has already been successfully taken almost to the finish line due, in particular, to the good cooperation between the project partners. Thanks to the good steering, the various goals have been coordinated almost seamlessly. 

Pohjaranta adds that the open cooperation and communication between the contractor and client has made it easy to monitor, anticipate and control costs.   

‘There has been none of that old-school confrontation,’ Pohjaranta says. 

Aurum is a joint project of the University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University. The students, researchers and other staff of the educational institutions are going to be under one roof. 

Mikko Hupa, the previous rector of Åbo Akademi University, has stated that, thanks to the new and functional facilities that support cooperation, the universities can lead development both nationally and internationally. According to Hupa, innovations in the chemical and technical fields are necessary if we are to cope with major challenges, such as climate change. 

Sweco Impact combines three areas of expertise: technical, economic and sustainable development  

We believe at Sweco that combining technical and commercial expertise with sustainable development goals from the very beginning of a project will bring added value to the project, users and investors. We take responsibility for overall project steering and combine the best experts and solutions. We bring business understanding into the investment from the outset. In this way, we ensure that the project takes long-term commercial impact into account. To make the responsibilities clear, we offer a one-stop service.

"We sought a partner with a broad strategic understanding for the needs assessment and project assessment phases. We wanted an operator who would, in addition to serving as a traditional developer consultant, understand the big picture of the project’s goals, such as the collaboration needs of the universities. The goals were set high."
Kimmo Mäkelä, Project Manager at SYK