The new Kesko headquarters in Helsinki has completed and are now the offices of some 1800 members of staff who are working for the retail group specialising in groceries as well as the building and technical trade. The contemporary feel of the office environment is futureproofed for changes in working methods in years to come. The design of the building also provides a showcase for Kesko’s products and services.
K-Kampus is located in a recent addition to the city: the Kalastama district. It enjoys a prominent position in Kalastama next door to the Redi shopping mall and within a stone’s throw from the metro station which has trains reaching central Helsinki within 10 minutes. To the west, is the slaughter house area and the fast developing Suvilahti with its many services.
The K-Kampus is made up an urban block with its own distinct identity. In Helsinki, the possibility to occupy a whole city block in this way is a rare opportunity and it has enabled not only a wholistic vision for the campus but has also resulted a strong architectonic presence.
The building complex embodies important values such as customer care and corporate responsibility. The architecture reaffirms these values through its interpretation of Modernist Scandinavian principles, highlighting durability and authenticity. The architects’ approach also combines the immediacy of clarity of vision with care and attention for details and purposeful design.
The campus has light brick elevations that have been laid in situ and that alternate with exposed fair-faced concrete as well as large panes of glazing. From the outside, the warm tones of timber used in the building’s arcades and roof terrace are visible and add another layer to the architecture’s sense of materiality.
The interiors reinforce the language of the building’s exterior. Architectural detailing combined with a pared-down approach to spaces that are generous and easily legible facilitates way finding throughout the Campus. The material palette has been selected so that it feels natural, for example, with its oak floors and ceilings lined in pinewood. The interiors all wrap around a glazed atrium where a scaled up staircase is a visual focal point, acting as a meeting point as well as a symbol for communality. Meeting and presentation rooms are located on the first floor and, when opened up to the atrium staircase, enable the hosting of functions for up to 1000 people. The atrium stair has been designed so that it is easy on the foot, thereby inviting people in the building to use it rather than choosing to go up and down by lift.
A building that occupies a whole block in this way makes it possible to offer exceptionally spacious and flexible office accommodation on each floor. This has been important to the client, as Kesko has teams travelling from around the Helsinki area and congregating in the building.
The variety of workspaces on offer ensures that individual needs and collaboration can be addresses in a convivial way. The differentiation through colour palettes and the loose furniture selected for the office floors has ensured that each level has its own atmosphere. Throughout, there is a desire for the best possible acoustic environment which has led the interiors team to opt for specially designed ceilings and textiles to cover the floors. The result is a calm and serene sequence of workspaces. The architects also introduced higher than standard ceiling heights for this type of building. This together with the strategic use of glazed surfaces ensures that the K-Kampus interior feels uplifting and well-lit. In addition to the actual office floors, the K-Kampus restaurant, cafe and other break out spaces are equipped so that these too can be used as both meeting and working areas.
A defining design principle for the project has been energy efficiency. Artificial intelligence has come to play a part in this by monitoring the building control systems for heating, lighting and air conditioning. The objective is to keep energy consumption as low as possible whilst still providing occupants as comfortable an environment as possible.
Kesko-Kampus will be Finland’s first office building to go carbon neutral in its waste management. The client and design team will be applying for both BREAAM and Green Office certification for the project.