The Old Margarine Factory

Unique apartments in a 1920s margarine factory

Project description:

We designed the conversion of The Old Margarine Factory into a residential building.  The Neo-classicist building of the 1920s, designed by architect Uno Sjöholm, and extended in the 1930s, has been mostly empty since the factory was closed in 1992 and this was very evident in the dilapidation of the building. We designed 31 residential apartments on three floors of the old factory. 

The premise of the design process was to create as many apartments as possible yet respecting and protecting the original architecture of the building. The protection status mostly applies to the east and south façades which are important parts of the street scene of the area. These façades were preserved as close to their original shape as possible, and changes were made more freely to the other façades. From the factory use, there were significant amounts of contaminants in the building’s structures, which largely determined what had to be demolished and what could be kept in order for the building to be suitable for residential use. The façades were restored close to their original form, allowing the site of the old factory hall with its tall windows to become prominent as well. One of the staircases was designed in its original place, so that the entrance from the yard would remain close to its original shape. The granite loading dock was also allowed to remain in place and was converted into a terrace for the apartment. 

There are no identical apartments in the old factory building. Most of the apartments are single-room apartments, but there are also larger family style apartments and variations between these two. One goal for the design was to create outdoor spaces for the apartments, so almost each one has its own terrace, balcony, French balcony, or mini roof terrace. The residents were able to participate in their own apartment’s design process by designing their kitchens and choosing surface materials. There is a feel of an old building, although inside everything is new. 

The structure of the yard remained the same, but we designed a separate building for storage and common spaces. This extension made it possible for the main building to be dedicated only for residential purpose. The architecture of the extension is subordinate to the main building. The new courtyard building also calms the yard from the traffic of Lautatarhankatu. The feel of the 1920s is also taken into consideration in the greenery of the area by only planting traditional plants as well as trees and bushes typical for the period. A common playground and kitchen garden were built on the yard; it is easy to interact and live a communal life with the other residents both in the building and the outdoor spaces.