Alliance successful in renovating the Suomenlinna tunnel

YIT Corporation News, February 26, 2018 at 10:00 a.m.

Suomenlinna4 YIT
Suomenlinna4 YIT

Completed early this year, Finland’s smallest alliance project has proved successful. The challenging project was completed within the target schedule and budget.

“An alliance is a sensible tool for tackling the many challenges posed by a tunnel project under sea level”, says Ulla Räihä from the Suomenlinna administrative committee.

If the spirit of the alliance could be bottled, it would happen when the representatives of the commissioner, planner and the contractor arrive together for an interview. Even though the project is already completed, all three parties are full of excitement and team spirit. The joy of success is also shared.

“The best part of this project was the people and the things we learnt working together.” “The project had great interaction and team spirit.” “Discussing things and collaboration.” “Value for money, efficiency and enthusiasm.” These are some of the ways in which Ulla Räihä from the Suomenlinna administrative committee, Klaus Einsalo from Pöyry and Riikka Virtanen and Joonas Rinkinen from YIT describe the project’s success.

The starting point was challenging.

“We were expecting a challenging small-scale project. We were looking at renovating an undersea tunnel with various potential hurdles. We were doubtful if anyone would take interest in such a small-scale project”, Räihä says.

The alliance option felt like a sensible way to tackle the expected challenges.

“We did wonder if such an approach was exaggerated, and if an alliance would be too much work for a EUR 7 million project,” she continues.

Her concerns were short-lived. The whole team feels that despite the scale of the project, an alliance was the perfect approach.

Testing and agility

Planner Einsalo feels the project was planned sensibly.

“From the start, we decided to take a light approach to planning. We wanted to test our plan as the work progressed. Then, when along the way there were surprises in the tunnel, we could test different options and adapt the plan in an agile manner. This kind of cooperation made the process efficient”, Einsalo explains the benefits of the alliance for the project.

He admits that achieving agility requires flexibility on the planner’s part.

“It doesn’t happen often that the construction supervisor calls the planner from the site outside of working hours and asks if something could be done differently. This is how it was with this project”, he describes.

Einsalo feels the experience was positive.

“It was great that the workers had the courage to both make decisions and to discuss different options. Everyone took greater responsibility for planning their own work. This promoted agility, built team spirit and made the project a success”, Einsalo says.

Riikka Virtanen from YIT says that factors such as the small size of the tunnel brought their own challenges to the planning of work.

“Flexibility and special arrangements were necessary just to ensure sufficient traffic arrangements on site. Because time was of the essence, all hurdles needed to be overcome in an agile manner”, she reflects.

Construction site in the heart of the city

The Suomenlinna tunnel project was notable for the attention it received. Just the tunnel itself being unusual raised interest. Suomelinna is a renowned tourist spot and, as a World Heritage Site, it garners special attention. To top it off, the tunnel construction site’s onshore end was located in Kaivopuisto, in the heart of Helsinki.

A decision was, therefore, made to invest particularly in the various construction site structures. For example, the sites were fenced off partially using glass elements. The idea was to make the construction work open and visible.

During the construction, a number of big public events were also organised in Kaivopuisto, including a great airshow that was part of the Finland 100 event series.

“The location of the site was challenging, but by being open and through cooperation we were able to avoid negative feedback. For example, we contacted the event organisers and asked what we should take into account, and whether we could help them in any way. So for example the food trucks at the airshow and a dance performance on the Night of the Arts got their electricity from the construction site”, says Joonas Rinkinen, the project’s Co-operation Coordinator.

In the end, the alliance team were pleased to find out that the site had been nominated for the Rose of Construction award, awarded by the city of Helsinki.

In the competition, the project’s collaborative qualities were particularly lauded. This was evident in the way that the people living close to the site were listened to and kept informed from start to finish. In this way, trust was achieved.

“We invested in communication and it paid off. We had meetings, follow-up groups and online communications – in other words, we were present. When issues arose, we communicated them the same as the positive things. This helped us build trust”, Ulla Räihä says.

More than just a project

Räihä from the Suomenlinna administrative committee is pleased with both the progression of the project and its outcome.

“This has been more than just a project. The team spirit we built and collaboration made us all excited”, she says.

Räihä feels that all the parties played extremely well together. The spirit of the alliance was felt by all who participated in the project.

“During the Christmas dinner, I went around talking to different groups of people who worked on the project, and I was pleased to find that everyone from big corporation representatives to the smaller subcontractors was talking about our project. The atmosphere was great and everybody had adopted the alliance spirit of working together”, she describes.

“Within the whole project there was a great sense of collaboration, and us commissioners were confident in having the project backed by a large company”, Räihä sums up.

Renovation of the Suomenlinna service tunnel

  • The budget for the project was approx. EUR 7 million.
  • The commissioner was the Suomenlinna administrative committee.
  • The alliance partners were YIT and Pöyry.
  • The tunnel was closed for renovation in April 2017.
  • The tunnel was reopened for emergency services in December 2017, finishing touches were put in until February 2018.

For further information, please contact:

Satu Tammilehto-Hänninen, The Alliance Project Manager, YIT Construction Ltd, tel. +358 40 830 8097,

Hanna Malmivaara, Vice President, Communications, YIT Corporation, tel. +358 40 561 6568,

YIT is the biggest construction company in Finland and a major player in Northern Europe. We construct and develop apartments, business premises and entire residential areas. Furthermore, we are specialists in infrastructure construction and paving. Together with our customers, our 10,000 professionals create increasingly functional, appealing and sustainable cities and living environments. We have operations in 11 countries: Finland, Russia, Scandinavian and Baltic countries, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland. The new YIT was created by the merger of YIT Corporation and Lemminkäinen Corporation, both over 100 years old, on February 1, 2018. In 2017, our combined annual revenue amounted to over EUR 3.8 billion. YIT Corporation’s share is listed on Nasdaq Helsinki.