The Gate of Kuopio reforms the local landscape
The Gate of Kuopio reforms the local landscape
The carbon-neutral Gate of Kuopio hybrid building, developed and constructed by Lapti, was built in three stages, with the tallest of the towers rising to 17 floors above ground. The travel centre offering versatile services is an anticipated project in Kuopio, and it was completed one year ahead of schedule.
The Gate of Kuopio is located on the site of the old bus station next to the railway station. The location is attractive, because it is close to the motorway and public transport services, as well as right next to the city bicycle stop. For construction company Lapti, the Gate of Kuopio is the largest construction project to date. The concept design for the project started in 2016, and Sweco got involved a year later.
“It has been a long journey, but time has flown by surprisingly quickly. We built strong trust in our designers along the way,” says Construction Project Manager Erno Ruotsalainen from Lapti. Both sides showed flexibility along the way, and problems were solved together. ”The development has been great. We have been able to learn from all three stages of construction and to always take our lessons learned to the next stage.”
The hybrid building comprises three residential towers with 15–17 floors each and a total of 222 dwellings, business and office spaces, travel services, a grocery store and restaurant and wellbeing services. There are 1,000 parking spaces, including for bicycles, and a play area for daycare children on the roof of the parking garage. “The tower complex, which is visible to everyone, is to the urban landscape of Kuopio what Tripla is to Helsinki,” says Sweco’s Structural Engineer Markus Sääskilahti. The building stock in the centre of Kuopio has so far been no more than 6 floors tall.
Sweco, one of the tenants of the office premises, was also responsible for the structural and building services engineering of the site and for building information model coordination. “Our office has access to the railway station under the railway tracks, and as a resident of Kuopio, it is a pleasure to say that there are now great waiting areas for passengers!” says Sweco’s Electrical Designer Jouni Palmu.
The vibration of the railway tracks cannot be felt inside the homes
The railway tracks run right next to the Gate of Kuopio, which causes vibration in the ground. The location had to be taken into account in the frame solutions of the residential towers. ”Vibration was isolated from structures with a vibration absorber that resembles the rubber paws placed under a washing machine. Only the size is different,” Sääskilahti describes.
The hybrid building was built on steel pipes and the construction solutions utilised a number of construction techniques. “For example, the parking garage utilises prestressed frame structures, the horizontal structures were cast in place and the vertical structures were made with elements,” Sääskilahti lists. A load-bearing structure was designed between the residential towers and the commercial premises. “The loads in the tower buildings are focused on certain areas, and pillars and walls up to 40 centimetres thick were designed to carry these loads.”
Height impacted choice of technology
The Gate of Kuopio is nearly carbon-neutral as a whole, and its offices and business premises were awarded the LEED Gold certificate. Geothermal energy is used for heating and cooling, which is rare for urban centres, and solar panels in the parking facility produce electricity for e.g. lighting and charging electric cars. “Energy efficiency has also been improved with suitable lighting solutions and plumbing fixtures with low water consumption,” Palmu adds.
Due to the height, the design of the technical systems needed some out-of-the-box thinking. “The warm air will rise up and cause pressure differences, i.e. the flue phenomenon, which is controlled with apartment-specific ventilation units,” Palmu says. “On the top floors, pressure-raising pumps are employed in domestic water pipes.”
In electrical engineering, careful consideration was given to safety lighting, fire-prevention technology and lightning protection of escape routes. ”However, on the basis of the risk analysis, there was no need for a lightning protection system. After all, Puijo is pretty close,” Palmu says. A busbar distribution system was ultimately selected for electricity distribution. “Unit-specific electric cabling would have taken too much space in a building this tall.”
The long-awaited project was completed one year ahead of schedule
The Last Planner tool was used in project management and scheduling, which allowed worksite production and designers to speak the same language when it came to the schedule, according to Erno Ruotsalainen. “Everyone noticed pretty quickly how significantly the tool increased understanding and ensured that the plans were produced right on time.”
Thanks to Last Planner, the flow of information was efficient, creating a sense of control for everyone. “No work had to be done on site without the relevant plans, and all the elements were also completed on time,” Sääskilahti says with satisfaction.
The Gate of Kuopio was finally completed one year ahead of the schedule agreed between the City and VR. “Without a good team, it would not have been possible,” says Ruotsalainen. The completed travel centre is a long-awaited project in Kuopio. “It is wonderful to see it implemented as such a versatile entity, which brings great joy to all locals and visitors alike.”
Pictures: Lapti Oy