Along with remote work, office spaces are moving closer to residential areas. Huudi Business Park in Munkkivuori, Helsinki, also welcomes local residents. Design Stories checked out the refurbished hybrid space, for which Finnish Design Shop’s Contract Sales provided most of the furniture.
“HUUDI.” The white decal on the exterior wall of the office building in Munkkivuori, Helsinki, can be seen from afar. And that’s the whole point: the facility, previously known as Menuetto, has undergone a transformation and now welcomes businesses as well as local residents and remote workers.
When entering via the main entrance, the visitor comes to a draught lobby reminiscent of the foyer of a small New York bistro. Whereas when coming through the back door, the visitor is met with a stepped, park-like island with benches and swings.
“Since we aren’t that close to the city center, we brought the city here,” says project manager Katriina Lankinen from Bolder Development.
Lankinen and her team were responsible for updating the concept and designing the spaces. The premises are owned by the Finnish pension insurance company Keva. The location in Munkkivuori guided the design of the spaces: the surrounding suburban forest provided inspiration for the elevated island in the lobby.
Huudi is an example of a significant shift in the use of office spaces, accelerated by the pandemic. According to Lankinen, companies no longer wish to have a single office for everyone to work in, like they did in early 2000s. Instead, companies have shifted more and more towards a hybrid model where work can be done both remotely and in satellite workspaces near residential areas.
“Now people want workspaces to be comfortable and more relaxed. This, too, used to be a large glass lobby, but now this space can be used for working or meeting people, whether you work in this building or have just dropped in for remote work or lunch.”
“This space can be used for working or meeting people, whether you work in this building or have just dropped in for remote work or lunch.”
Flexible working is supported by a restaurant and a café, which also serves snacks in the small hours for those who work in the US time zone, for example. For the restaurant, Lankinen and her colleagues designed an inviting, bistro-like interior with warm tones.
Furniture with round, comfortable shapes was selected for the interior. The most prominent pieces of furniture are Menu’s Harbour chairs in three different tones, which were inspired by existing panels and the park theme. Finnish Design Shop’s Contract Sales provided the furniture for the site.
Since the existing materials were of high quality, efforts were made during the renovation to preserve as much of the old as possible. For instance, the old serving tables were just provided with new decals. The impressive granite floor served as the premise for the design process.
“This also posed the greatest challenge; how to combine the new with the old and how to breathe life into the old,” describes Lankinen.
The high-ceiling lobby looks like it had originally been designed that way. The warm, muted tones are a perfect match for the perforated sheet metal from the early 2000s.
Since the existing materials were of high quality, efforts were made during the renovation to preserve as much of the old as possible.
Providing the lobby with underfloor heating posed the greatest technical challenge. It required making inconspicuous grilles for the park island so that air could pass through them. Fortunately, the effort paid off: the island creates a separate, cozy space in the large lobby. In the evenings, Vibia’s Tempo luminaires glow above it like street lamps.
Bolder Development spent several weeks on the conceptualization. The project was provided with an overall budget and, according to Lankinen, the project also stayed on it. “That’s the way we do things, and it also supports the client in their decision making.”
Lankinen continues by saying that good planning alone is not enough for success. “We’ve had great partners. All the furniture also arrived on time, and we were able to start when we were supposed to despite the fact that there’ve been problems with deliveries in general due to the pandemic.”
Lankinen gives Finnish Design Shop special praise for providing the delivery times for each batch of furniture on clear tables – and for keeping the schedules.
According to Harri Herrala from Finnish Design Shop’s Contract Sales, good planning was key in all that, as well.
“We did detailed research well in advance to determine the delivery time of each product and the deadlines for the orders. The installation partners got all the products by the agreed date. The brands also did excellent work on this,” compliments Herrala.
All this was accomplished despite the fact that the project was extensive and that, for instance, Pedrali’s tables were customized according to the designer’s wishes. Herrala also compliments Bolder Development for doing great work.
“For the entire project, I felt that all the parties from the designer to the client acted as a team. That’s contract furnishing at its best.”
Text: Taina Ahtela Images: Esa Kapila