The construction of the Aurinkokivi Service Centre in 2016 provided the initial impetus to the City of Vantaa’s ambitious project to improve the quality of indoor air in the buildings. Sweco’s moisture and indoor air experts supported the client’s ambitions in co-operation with the contractor Fira Oy.
The Aurinkokivi Service Centre
The service centre, located in Kivistö, Vantaa, currently provides the facilities for a day care centre, a child welfare clinic and a school of approximately 1,000 children and young people from first-grade pupils to upper secondary school students. The first thing Sweco’s experts had to do in the new construction project was to assess the risks of the plans.
“We went through the aspects of the plans concerning moisture control and developed some improvement ideas with the engineers,” says Sweco’s Project Manager Miika Virtanen. After this, the site’s moisture levels were monitored according to the moisture control plan.
Aurinkokivi was a moment of truth for the City of Vantaa. The problem with indoor air quality was a live issue, but systematic moisture control was still a new concept in the industry. “We were one of the first in the industry to include a moisture control coordinator in a project even before it became a statutory obligation,” says the City of Vantaa’s Project Manager Ari Kiiskinen. “We wanted to verify our measurements of indoor conditions, which is why we acquired the services of a third-party expert.”
The measures of moisture control included performing all tasks related to roofs under portable shelters. The site’s temperatures and relative humidity levels were measured with environmental data loggers. “We used state-of-the-art technology in the Aurinkokivi project. The same technology is now entirely wireless, and the data is uploaded to a cloud platform in real time,” says Virtanen.
Moisture risks minimised together with the contractor
The focus in the Aurinkokivi project was on the drying conditions of concrete and the minimisation of the moisture risks of ground-supported structures. “Dry air has the best capacity to absorb the moisture of new structures,” says Virtanen. Humid outdoor air was prevented from entering the premises by placing double sheets of plastic or insulation on the window openings and using air dryers, for instance.
A single case of water damage occurred during the construction, but the open and professional approach to solving the problem only strengthened the mutual trust between the parties. “A rainwater drain pipe burst during a weekend and the contractor asked us to analyse and document all damage immediately,” says Virtanen. “There are bound to be some problems in all projects, so the only thing that matters is how you deal with them.”
For the City of Vantaa, Aurinkokivi was the first extensive building information modelling project in which several things were done with a novel approach, including the drying of the lightweight expanded clay aggregate between the air raid shelter and a classroom. “Together with the contractor, we decided to transport the aggregate in bags and to dry it before applying it,” says Virtanen. Such aggregates are typically transported to sites with lorries and applied while wet.
According to Kiiskinen, various innovative and pioneering solutions were applied in the project. “They have subsequently become standard methods in the industry applied by responsible developers.”
A successful combination of youthful vision and proven experience
In the final stage of the project, Sweco’s experts inspected the building technology settings and the level of cleanliness. The project was a success for all parties involved. “When different parties develop things together, a wide range of accomplishments can be achieved,” says Kiiskinen emphatically. “The project included a delightful combination of youthful vision and proven experience. Everyone valued the efforts of each other.”
Sweco’s Miika Virtanen also emphasises the significance of a shared mindset and the operational mandate provided by the developer. “We all had the same idea for what can be achieved with moisture control. Together, we ensured that the final result corresponded with the goals of the client.”
The co-operation between Sweco and Fira has continued in several projects, and the Aurinkokivi project was a springboard for a partnership with the City of Vantaa. “Sweco is involved in 3–5 construction projects of the city as the moisture control coordinator on an annual basis,” says Kiiskinen. “For example, we are currently involved in the alliance projects of Hämeenkylä and Rajatorppa schools.”
Photos: Playa Architects, Visualization studio Lumart