Eteläesplanadi 4

Renovation of The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment

Project description:

The art nouveau building presently serving as a ministry building was completed in 1913 on the corner of Eteläesplanadi and Unioninkatu. Originally, the building was designed by Armas Lindgren as a private residential and commercial palace, but in the middle of construction it was converted into a government building. Plans for the conversion, which mainly concerned the interior, were carried out by architect Nikolai Meder. The whole was completed with yard buildings in the 1870s. 

The renovation designed by Talli was completed in 2015. The former renovation of the building for the use of the Ministry of Labour in 1984 was designed by architects Pirkko and Arvi Ilonen. In the renovation carried out in 2015, workspaces were created for 250 employees of The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, which was about 120 more workstations than before. For teamwork spaces, the rooms were combined into larger spaces with a maximum of 12 workstations. Other operational changes in the building included the centralization of conference rooms in the meeting center on the first floor and the construction of a staff cafeteria. The ground floor’s archive space was converted into staff changing rooms and a gym, and one office into a waste room serving other office spaces. 

Workspaces consistent with the activity-based environment concept were implemented indoors so that most of the workstations are located in team spaces, and the rest in single-person workrooms. Interior design team assembled from employees, interior designers and an ergonomics expert met some twenty times over the course of two years to consider the functionality, necessity, peace, and ergonomics of working and meeting facilities in order to achieve the best possible outcome. 

In interior and furniture design, the idea has been to create a timeless but valuable milieu in the building’s public spaces such as the convention center; the materials include limestone on the floors and patinated brass in the details. Freshness and light have been sought in the workspaces while still maintaining the original space allocation as much as possible as well as original building components such as the mirror doors. Not much of the architectural solutions of the 1980s’ renovation could be preserved, largely due to the extensive renewal of ventilation technology and the addition of air conditioning. It was also largely influenced by the new space program with its new needs. 

For the interior, colors of the style of the building, the so-called late art nouveau, have been applied. Of the most valuable interiors, the stairwells were repainted and the coloring returned to its original appearance. The marbling treatments of pilasters and pillars were preserved. The ceiling of the mirror hall with plaster decorations was also preserved. 

The plastered façades of the building were renovated and repainted. The coloring was restored close to the original. The yellow color was retrieved from earth pigments and the decorative parts are slightly reddish. The granite decorations were cleaned, and black glass billboards were renovated. The windows and exterior doors were also renovated, insulation glasses were added to the windows, and their original coloring restored. The roof was elevated on the courtyard side due to the expansion of the engine rooms. The sheetmetal roof was restored to the green coloring of the original glazed brick roof. 

Project info:

In 2019 the premises were converted into temporary facilities for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which resulted to changes to security arrangements and fixed furniture.
Building permit granted:10/2012
Location:Eteläesplanadi, Helsinki
Size:11 700 m2
Protection status:Protected by the planning notation sr-1
Original construction date:1913
Original architect:Armas Lindgren
Principal designer:Minna Lukander
Project architect:Riitta Tuomisto, 2018–2019 Jukka Sulonen
Interior design:Martti Lukander, Jukka Keskitalo
Other team members:Mikaela Neuvo, Mari Mannevaara, Jari Heikkinen, Oona Airas 
Photos:Anders Portman, Kuvatoimisto Kuvio Oy