The new headquarters of the game development company Supercell is part of the unique Wood City block in the Jätkäsaari district of Helsinki. For this project, SRV, Stora Enso and Sweco have developed new solid wood structures together that lead the way in sustainable urban construction.
In addition to the new Supercell headquarters, the EUR 100 million Wood City block, due to be finished in 2021, consists of two wooden residential buildings, parking facilities and a hotel. The wooden office complex developed jointly by SRV, Stora Enso and Sweco has generated a lot of interest in the field.
”It is a joint effort towards a new type of construction and an example of how things can be done differently,” explains Maija Tiainen, project manager of wooden structure design at Sweco. The architectural designs of Wood City are secret, but it should come as no surprise that the Supercell headquarters is far from your average office. ”The building will include a variety of team working spaces and functionalities, and it could be compared to a shopping centre, for example!”
For SRV, it is the largest wooden construction project yet, even though the company continuously has over 50 ongoing project sites around Finland. ”The significance of the office tower is increased by its future user and its location as a landmark when entering Jätkäsaari,” emphasises Development Director Antti Aaltonen, from SRV’s construction business.
From the start, the purpose of the project was to create a new flagship for wood construction, as this is the first wooden office building of this scale in Finland. ”I believe that companies and employees alike have learnt a great deal from the project,” states Business Development Manager Antto Kauhanen from Stora Enso Wood Products. ”It is great that an entire block can be built in the heart of Helsinki from solid wood.”
Innovative wood construction in the spirit of an alliance
The biggest challenge facing the design of the wooden office tower was the lack of references. Several structural solutions were considered before it was decided that the 8-storey office building would be built using pillar beam elements of LVL plywood stiffened with concrete shafts and adaptable bolting. A completely new LVL production line was established at Stora Enso’s factory in Varkaus.
”Initially we had no standardised design values to work with, and structural designers had to make a lot of assumptions. Luckily, we had sufficient resources and top professionals reacted quickly to changes,” Kauhanen says. ”Sweco’s structural designers had a central role in developing the office complex.”
An exceptional amount of modifications were required. ”Our job was to coordinate the client’s wishes with the site schedules, which was not a simple task. Communication was of utmost importance,” Tiainen says. ”We actively guided the operation with the help of Last Planner, for instance.”
Good team spirit was also evident in Supercell’s design management and in how they took care of the contractors. ”Supercell has high ambitions for creating the world’s best working environment, and they also wanted to motivate each person on site to do their best,” Aaltonen says. “Although it was a turnkey project, our cooperation was like an alliance.”
Using wood can cut construction emissions by half
At the end of 2019, Stora Enso published its new wooden office concept that was developed using experiences gained in the Wood City project. It all builds from the company’s values.
”Responsibility is among our most important values and we want to offer an ecologically sustainable alternative to the field,” Kauhanen states. ”Wood is used to create healthy and long-lasting buildings that also have architectural and structural value.”
SRV is a material-neutral company and sustainable values are evident in minimising wastage in construction. ”Wood City proves that using wood is one way of optimising processes and cutting down waste. It also acts as an example of how to succeed in demanding wooden construction,” Aaltonen summarises.
Wooden construction is an efficient way for municipalities and companies to achieve their carbon-neutral objectives. The benefits of wood are emphasised in densely built environments like Jätkäsaari.
”A large number of the lightweight but strong wood elements can be transported at once, reducing transport, their costs and emissions,” Kauhanen says. Prefabricated wood elements can also be delivered at the site at the exactly correct time. “Using wood can cut construction emissions by half.”