Sustainable Tapiola

Sweco’s experts have participated in the development of the Tapiola district, in the heart of the urban area as well as in the Länsimetro and Keilaniemi projects. The best-known and most-loved city district in Espoo has been renewed sustainably on its residents’ and the environment’s terms.

Sweco’s experts have participated in the development of the Tapiola district, in the heart of the urban area as well as in the Länsimetro and Keilaniemi projects. The best-known and most-loved city district in Espoo has been renewed sustainably on its residents’ and the environment’s terms. 

The modernisation project, which took over 10 years to complete, introduced modern construction and transport solutions to the garden district. Over 2,000 new apartments were constructed near jobs and services. Although the area is being developed into a modern commercial centre,  its traditional strengths are retained. 

”Even though Tapiola is at the dawn of its own renaissance, it will continue to be a district for families,” says Head of Economic Development of the City of Espoo Harri Paananen. International attractions are easy to find. ”As a cultural centre, Tapiola will continue to attract international visitors and experts. The organic area formed by Tapiola, Keilaniemi and Otaniemi is a unique whole, even by European standards.” 

Over 100 designers from Sweco have taken part in the EUR 1 billion renewal project during the past 10 years. Some have been involved right from the start. The dense and complex hybrid construction has made an impression on even the most experienced structural engineers. 

”I first saw the overall design for Tapiola over ten years ago when we joined this amazing project,” says Sweco’s Project Development Director Tapio Raunama. ”I knew immediately that we were creating something new and unique from the perspective of both users and design.” 

Cities of the future are located along tracks 

The Keilaniemi tunnel, the Länsimetro underground line, the new bus terminal for connecting traffic and the nearby Jokeri Light Rail all improve the flow of traffic between Helsinki and different districts of Espoo. 

“It would not have been possible to develop the area without an underground connection. Private operators only invest in areas that feature not only a dense urban structure but also rapid public transport, preferably on rails,” Paananen emphasises. Tapiola will also see trials of new sustainable urban traffic solutions. ”For example, we are testing electric robot buses between the nearby districts.” 

Tapiola is also easier to reach by bicycle. The metro station includes a bicycle parking area and it is easy to move between districts using the unified pedestrian and cycle paths. “City bikes, which are suitable for short-distance travel, ensure that people can leave their car at home if they wish. It improves the traffic flow for all road users,” says Paananen. 

Underground construction enables a large pedestrian zone 

Sustainable development is an important part of the Tapiola project. Sweco’s structural designers were involved in creating solutions that turned the AINOA shopping centre into a public transport hub. New residential buildings are located on top of the shopping centre, and the metro station and bus terminal are located on the bottom floor. 

”Large parking facilities for about 3,000 cars were designed underground, which freed up space above ground for the largest pedestrian zone in Finland with shops, squares and green areas,” Raunama explains. 

Tapiola proves how dense urban construction can free up space for landscaping and pleasant recreational spaces. “The idea is that a dense hub may be located very close to nature, whereas semi-dense urban construction often continues as far as the eye can see,” Paananen emphasises. 

Hybrid construction requires teamwork 

The centre of Tapiola, which features diverse hybrid construction, has posed interesting challenges for the designers. For example, the foundations have included every possible alternative, from rock and ground-supported foundations to different pilings and pillars. 

”Each frame solution had to serve a larger whole,” Raunama summarises. ”While we were designing apartments and parking and business facilities, we had to acknowledge the area’s huge metro tunnels and environmental factors. Tapiola is located only slightly above sea level, and some of the floors had to be secured with rock anchors against groundwater uplift.” 

Although the structural solutions were technically demanding, the close cooperation between the client, the structural engineers and the architectural and building services engineering teams kept the project on schedule. “Team spirit has truly evolved over the course of the long project. Together, we were able to acknowledge all the numerous intertwining pieces,” Raunama says.