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The first ever Finnish hospital project implemented using the alliance model


Opened 2020

In Cooperation

Kainuu Sote and the Kainua Alliance


Architectural design, structural and building engineering design

Kainuu received Finland’s first central hospital implemented with the alliance model – Sweco’s experts from all over Finland in charge of design 

 Although the new Kainuu Central Hospital is but a walking distance away from the Kajaani city centre, the hospital area is like a small town in itself. It has a central kitchen, a pharmacy and a number of other essential hospital support services. The asphalted yard covers an underground network of tunnels, and the hospital area is surrounded by a busy road network.  

“The planning of a project the size of a small town requires comprehensive understanding of how different sections work together,” explains Sweco’s Kaisa Narvio, who worked as the project manager for user engagement.  

The new central hospital mainly consists of new construction built next to the old hospital. The old hospital was fully operational throughout the construction. The design work had to ensure that construction does not interfere with the sensitive hospital equipment, for example. The new hospital in Kainuu is a trailblazer in being the first hospital project in Finland that is delivered using the alliance model.  

Best possible hospital for the people of Kainuu 

 The design for the new Kainuu Central Hospital was initiated in 2015. The old hospital building, mainly dating from the 1960s, had reached the end of its technical service life and no longer met the changing health care requirements. The implementation phase began in spring 2017, and the first part of the hospital was completed in January 2020. Overall, the project will be completed in autumn 2021.  

“The starting point was to build a safe, healthy and efficient hospital for the people of Kainuu. In patient work, the focus has been on creating a comfortable, rehabilitating and accessible environment. The building and technical solutions have strived for adaptability, smart technology and wood construction,” summarises Terho Pekkala from Kainuu Social and Health Care Joint Authority. 

Sweco’s role in the project has been extensive. Sweco was in charge of the architectural design, structural engineering and building service system design. Sweco’s project management expertise was utilised in user-oriented design, hospital commissioning, logistics planning and cost management services. The new hospital area also received a yard and environmental plan, a plan of traffic routes, entrance parking and traffic control as well as a land levelling plan. Skanska is in charge of construction and Caverion Suomi is in charge of building technology construction in the alliance. The client of the alliance is the Kainuu Social and Health Care Joint Authority. 

Most advanced Finnish hospital for the second time 

 When the old hospital was completed in Kainuu in the 1960s, it was considered the most advanced Finnish hospital in many respects. The new project aims to regain that old title for the new Kainuu Central Hospital.  

 “We have not built a hospital for yesterday or today, but a hospital for the future,” summarises Sweco’s Jouni Palmu, who was in charge of the electrical and telecommunication system design in the project.  

The technical solutions of the new hospital are modern and energy-efficient. Its basic functions include a great deal of automation: nurses no longer have to spend time adjusting the temperature in the operating theatres, for example. Smart devices and new innovations transform the operations of the entire hospital, since they free up time for patient work.  

Palmu is especially excited about the integrated hospital control system, completely unique in Finland. Instead of the traditional row of switches, the patient room functions are controlled from a touch screen by the side of the door. Sweco’s Nina Komu, building service system designer responsible for the HVAC solutions, is happy about the hospital’s carbon dioxide plant that enables energy recycling in the hospital area. For example, the waste heat produced by the equipment maintenance washing machines is recovered and used elsewhere.  

Pioneer of user-oriented design 

 The design of the new Kainuu hospital has taken user orientation to a new level. The hospital staff and patient group spokespersons were involved in the project from the start. A central tool used by Sweco was the virtual space Cave where users can move about in a nearly life-sized, three-dimensional environment. Up to 20 users with 3D glasses could simultaneously enter the virtual space. Virtual tools and VR technology have since then been used widely in other projects as well.  

“We set high standards for user orientation. The design process approached the user as a partner together with whom we can create the optimally functioning hospital,” Narvio summarises. 

User orientation and cooperation between different building process parties were enhanced by the versatile use of building information models. Their use was so successful that the project received the title of the best BIM project in Finland and the Baltic countries and a Special Recognition Award at the Tekla Global BIM Awards. 

“Through close collaboration between the alliance’s design and engineering parties, we were able to make the models as accurate and real-time as possible. The project has also partly functioned as a pilot, since we have been able to transfer some modelling solutions to Sweco’s other hospital projects,” explains Sweco’s Project Manager Eemeli Tikkanen, who was in charge of the project’s structural engineering. 

Healing and calming surroundings for the patients 

The framework for the operational and architectural solutions was created through user-oriented design in which individual needs and the ideal locations for different wards were determined together with the users. According to Sweco’s architect and principal designer Nicola Ugas, the hospital architecture was designed to support recovery. 

“The different hospital wards work well independently and in synergy with others. The inpatient wards have large glazed facilities where patients can rehabilitate, meet their family, eat and move around,” Ugas explains. 

The landscaping of the hospital yard focused on ensuring that nature and greenery and their calming effect can be sensed through the windows. The handsome pines in the area were also preserved. Wood is a central element used in building facades, internal structures and fixtures of the hospital. The functional hospital yard areas benefit the patients, hospital staff and family members alike. 

“For example, the yard includes a rehabilitation park for physical rehabilitation. Patients can also take part in maintaining the flowers and plants in the park. Using green areas for rehabilitation purposes is still a new concept in Finland, but there is evidence of its benefits,” says Department Manager Keijo Verronen from Sweco’s infrastructure planning. 

Working in an alliance requires close cooperation and hard work towards shared goals from all operators. Kaisa Narvio praises the client and other alliance parties for the excellent cooperation. The benefits of a large organisation are emphasised in large projects: top specialists in different planning fields are found from within the same company, from Sweco’s offices across Finland. 

“An alliance requires more cooperation abilities and flexibility from partners compared to traditional models. This has been well understood in the Kainua project and we have seen the long project through together. Most key persons have been working on the project right from the start, so all partners must be happy with the end result,” Terho Pekkala summarises.