The Jätkäsaari Circular Economy Block will have a new circular economy brick as facade material

YIT Corporation Press Release 29 May 2024 at 9:00 a.m.

YIT Jätkäsaaren Kiertotalouskortteli A R K - house arkkitehdit Oy
YIT Jätkäsaaren Kiertotalouskortteli A R K - house arkkitehdit Oy

The first circular economy block for lifelong learning in the Nordic countries will be built in Jätkäsaari, Helsinki. The circular economy block to be  implemented in Jätkäsaari is a communal apartment block that is designed, built and inhabited according to the circular economy concept. The developer of the project is the Yrjö ja Hanna Foundation, the turnkey project is carried out by YIT, the architectural design is carried out by ARK-House Arkkitehdit, and A-Insinöörit is responsible for the other design areas. The finished property will include accessible right-of-occupancy apartments, senior rental apartments and commercial premises.

The project is part of the city of Helsinki’s Kehittyvä kerrostalo programme. The project's development themes are the circular economy during construction, as well as affordable and replicable circular economy solutions. The site realises low carbon, reuse, disassembly and reparability over a long life cycle.

The goal was to find a sustainable facade material based on recycled materials 

The construction of the circular economy block strives to use materials that are renewable, recycled or recyclable, or otherwise less burdensome to the environment.

“At YIT, we assessed circular economy materials suitable for the facade and Jätkäsaari’s city plan recommends using bricks. However, no suitable ready-made products could be found, and A-Insinöörit, who acted as a consultant for the circular economy and sustainable construction in the project, came up with the idea of creating a new product. A-Insinöörit proposed recycled glass from Fiskars Group’s Iittala glass factory as one of the options for recycled material to be used in the project,” said Janne Piepponen, Construction Manager at YIT.

“We investigated the possibilities of some companies operating in Finland to start developing a new facade material from recycled material, and we finally brought together the people from the Iittala glass factory, Wienerberger and the project’s architectural design,” said Janita Rintala, Sustainable Construction Specialist at A-Insinöörit.

Discussions between Wienerberger and the architecture firm led to the idea of producing a circular economy brick using recycled glass and sanitary porcelain to serve as the main facade material for the project.

“We already had previous experience of using sanitary porcelain as part of the brick material. Based on laboratory tests, the use of recycled glass looked promising, and we were able to quickly proceed to factory tests,” said Milla Ahti-Kotilainen, who is responsible for product development and cooperation with architects at Wienerberger.

“The brick is well suited for the facade material of the circular economy block, and its surface looks impressive. As a material, the brick is long-lasting, maintenance-free and resistant to the demanding seaside weather conditions of Jätkäsaari. Replacing virgin raw materials with recycled materials in brick manufacturing is an excellent way to support the project’s objectives. The agile development of the new circular economy brick made it possible for it to be selected for the project,” said Piepponen.

The circular economy block takes a comprehensive approach to the sustainable construction of the future. This can be seen, for example, in structural design, which takes into account the removable nature of structures. In addition, HVAC design and energy systems are examined in such a way that they also serve well into the future. In anticipation of future climate conditions, the outdoor areas are designed with heavy rainfall and periods of heat in mind, and they also help preserve biodiversity.

Good results from factory testing of bricks

The use of recycled crushed products in the production of bricks affects the appearance of the brick and thus the brick facade surface. Sand and clay substitutes also affect the behaviour of the brick material during firing. Therefore, all products containing recycled materials are taken through the firing process and carefully tested.

In the development project of the circular economy bricks, the first extensive production tests have been carried out at the Koria brick factory in Kouvola. The bricks contain about 40% recycled materials and have a rougher appearance than conventional bricks, and the crushed porcelain and glass is visible on the brick surface as small crystals. The technical properties of the circular economy bricks meet the requirements for CE certification.

“We wanted circular economy solutions to be visible in structures. It is good to note that such a significant use of recycled materials does not substantially change the appearance of the brick. This should encourage more extensive use of the circular economy bricks. It’s great that the project resulted in a new permanent product for Wienerberger’s product range. The bricks are also manufactured in Finland with local clay,” said Petri Kokkonen, CEO at Yrjö ja Hanna Foundation.

New bricks in test use at the URF festival’s brick pavilion

Some of the circular economy bricks from the production test will be in test use in a brick pavilion being built in the Kivisilta area in Kerava as part of the URF sustainable construction festival. Designed by architects Maiju Suomi and Elina Koivisto, the pavilion is a replica of the Alusta pavilion that was built in the courtyard of the Museum of Finnish Architecture and the Design Museum in 2022.

“It was important to us that there is a genuine use for the prototype bricks that promotes the circular economy so they are not wasted,” said Maiju Paasiviita, Marketing Manager at Wienerberger.

Read more:
YIT has signed a contract with the Yrjö and Hanna Foundation on the construction of the Jätkäsaari Circular Economy Block in Helsinki | YITGROUP.COM
More information:
Janne Piepponen, Construction Manager, YIT, +358 40 759 7616,
Milla Ahti-Kotilainen, Contact Manager, Wienerberger Oy, +358 40 596 7007,
Petri Kokkonen, Group CEO, Yrjö ja Hanna Foundation, +358 40 457 1670,

YIT Group Communications: tel. +358 44 743 7536,

YIT is a leading construction and development company. Building on over 110 years of experience, we develop and build sustainable living environments: functional homes, future-proof public and commercial buildings, and infrastructure to support the green transition. We employ approximately 4,300 professionals in eight countries. Our revenue in 2023 was EUR 2.2 billion. YIT Corporation's shares are listed on Nasdaq Helsinki.

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