Verstas architects win international architecture competition

Press Release 13 Dec. 2011 at 12.30 p.m

Ernst & Young completes prominent business cluster in the Töölönlahti area

Etera Mutual Pension Insurance Company is commissioning the construction of an office building in a prime location of Töölönlahti for the consulting company Ernst & Young. In charge of the design of the building is Verstas Architects Ltd., winner of the architecture competition as announced today.

The new building will be built on Alvar Aalto Street, in block 2018 of Töölönlahti, across from Finlandia Hall. The building is Etera’s third office building project in Töölönlahti. Construction company Lemminkäinen will build all three buildings.

Of the three buildings planned for Töölönlahti, this one, to be completed in spring 2014, is the only one for which an international architecture competition was organised. The building is very important in terms of the urban landscape and will represent one of the landmarks of Helsinki’s city centre. A total of 20 design proposals were submitted in the competition: 18 from Finland, one from Denmark and one from Spain. The jury said the proposals were of a high quality and nicely took into account the significant location of the building. 

"The jury especially appreciated the highly functional and diversely modifiable floor plan of the winning solution. And the urban character of the proposal was also considered suitable and valuable, yet understated, for its very central and visible location, and in line with the spirit of Töölönlahti," states the Chairman of the Jury and Etera’s Head of Real Estate Investments, Timo Sotavalta.
The CEO of Ernst & Young Finland, Harri Pärssinen, is excited about how the new building embraces its location. He also values the inviting and easily approachable character of the future office premises and the timeless and elegant architecture of the building.

"The new building will be measured with an eye to our future growth, the satisfaction of our personnel and customer service. We expect the building to evoke for our personnel, customers and visitors the experience of a dynamic and international expert company with inspirational and energising office premises. It is important to us that the new premises foster a sense of community, which is particularly highlighted in TöölönlahtÍ's cultural landscape," says Pärssinen.

The architectural firm with the winning design proposal, Verstas Architects, has, in recent years, won several open and invited competitions in Finland. Kirkkojärvi School in Espoo was recently granted the International Architecture Award, and four of the firm’s architects – Väinö Nikkilä, Jussi Palva, Riina Palva and Ilkka Salminen – were honored as ‘40 under 40 – Europe’s Emerging Young Architects and Designers' laureates 2011.

According to a statement by the architects: "We wanted to create a building that offers full enjoyment of the unique location next to Töölönlahti park."

According to the City of Helsinki’s planning, the Töölönlahti area is slated to become an ‘urban living room' and cultural oasis. Once the building cluster is emptied of its office personnel at the end of the work day, the location becomes the domain of the building’s private residents, culture enthusiasts and users of the sizable green area that surrounds the building.
Press images of the winning entry can be downloaded at Lemminkäinen web site.

Jussi Niiranen, Project Director,
Lemminkäinen Talo Oy, Helsinki Metropolitan Area
Tel. +358 2071 53208,
Timo Sotavalta, Head of Real Estate Investments,
Etera Mutual Pension Insurance Company
Tel. +358 40 732 5577,

Harri Pärssinen, CEO,
Ernst & Young Finland
Tel. +358 207 280 190,
Architect Ilkka Salminen, SAFA,
Verstas Architects Ltd.
Lemminkäinen Group operates in all areas of the construction sector. Its business sectors are building construction, infrastructure construction and technical building services. As of 2012, international operations will be the fourth business sector. Net sales in 2010 were approximately EUR 2 billion, of which international operations accounted for about a quarter. The Group employs an average of 8,000 people. Lemminkäinen Corporation’s share is listed on NASDAQ OMX

Etera Mutual Pension Insurance Company insures employees and entrepreneurs in private-sector fields of business. Etera provides pension cover for employees and self-employed persons and promotes well-being at work. Etera’s premium income in 2010 was EUR 570 million, and the company insures over 200,000 employees. It will pay out pensions to 151,000 pension recipients in the amount of more than EUR 1 billion in 2011. Etera secures its pension funds through investments, which, at the end of September 2011, totalled EUR 5.2 billion, of which EUR 760 million is invested in real estate.

Ernst & Young:
Ernst & Young is global leader in auditing, tax, corporate transaction, management consulting and corporate law advisory services. Common values and strong commitment to quality create the foundation for international co-operation for our 152,000-strong team of professionals. We influence the growth and development of our personnel, customers and society at large by identifying opportunities and by supporting the realisation of goals.