Helsinki’s Salmisaari (Sundholmen) belongs to the Länsisatama (West Harbour) district and the Ruoholahti area. In the early 20th century, Salmisaari was a rocky island inhabited by fishermen and summer residents. Julius Tallberg, who owned the area, sold Salmisaari to the city of Helsinki in 1918. Right after that groundwork and backfilling started, turning the island into an industrial and warehouse area. When the strait between Salmisaari and Helsinginniemi was filled, Salmisaari became a part of the mainland – and also few other islands are nowadays under the Salmisaari and Länsiväylä highway.
The industrialization of the area began in the 1930s. Today, the landscape of Salmisaari is dominated by historical landmarks from the industrialization era: the Helsinki Energy power plant, the Cable Factory, and the former Alko head office, factory and central warehouse, which in 2004 were renovated for the Helsinki Courthouse. It should be mentioned that Suomen Kaapelitehdas Oy’s old factory building was the largest building in Finland at the time of its completion in 1943. The Cable Factory and the Alko factory are successful examples of the reuse of old industrial properties. Old industrial buildings are now protected sites.
Today, the old buildings are surrounded by new office, commercial and residential buildings built on the former industrial sites. The construction work of these buildings began in the early 1990s. Buildings have been built on the former coal storage area of the Salmisaari power plant. The first one completed was the new head office of Varma insurance company, Varma-talo, designed by Tuomo Siitonen Architects. Varma built an office complex which total floor area in three different building parts exceeds 40,000 square meters. The tallest of the buildings is 12-storey, the other two are four-storey. All buildings follow the original red brick facade style of the industrial properties.
The client of this project was Varma insurance company. Our partners were architectural offices Tuomo Siitonen Architects and CMC Terasto Oy, which is part of the Jaakko Pöyry Group’s infrastructure and environment business group. At Varma-talo our challenges were to prevent the spread of fire and smoke through the lobby areas connecting the wings of the building. We solved the given task by simulating possible fire scenarios and optimizing the connections between the offices and the lobby on the basis of the simulations in a way that the fire cannot spread through the lobby and the smoke that accumulates there can escape. The office building was completed in 2009.
Our services in the project
- fire safety engineering
- plans for smoke clearance
- consulting during implementation
- authority negotiations
- consulting for other designers
Varma-talo on the map
READ more about the area
- Museovirasto: Salmisaaren teollisuusalue