Newil&Bau builds new and renovates old while respecting the spirit and identity of each area

The Finnish apartment developer Newil&Bau has become known for its innovative projects that blend visionary architecture with concepts created by interior architects. One of the company’s latest projects, 76&Piha, is located in Helsinki and involves transforming a former office complex into a modern residential building.

Newil&Bau 76&Piha, facade
A new Newil&Bau site, 76&Piha, is currently being renovated at Mannerheimintie 76, Helsinki.

DESPITE BEING A RELATIVELY NEW PLAYER in its field, the apartment developer Newil&Bau, founded in 2020, has already attracted tons of attention in the media. Recently, the company has been in the news for projects such as Meander housing by renowned architect Steven Holl, renovated luxury apartments in Alvar Aalto’s Insinööritalo, as well as 76&Piha’s windowless bedrooms with glass block walls.

Breaking boundaries and challenging conventions are an essential part of Newil&Bau’s design philosophy, which aims to bring new ideas to Finnish housing construction – and create Europe’s first customer-oriented consumer brand for new housing.

The company is dedicated to ambitious architecture- and design-oriented construction in urban growth centers, and its portfolio includes both renovated buildings as well as completely new projects.

Newil&Bau Meander housing, facade
Meander housing was designed by architect Steven Holl, who has also designed the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma in Helsinki.
Newil&Bau Lehtisaaren Torni, facade
Lehtisaaren Torni in Helsinki was designed by the architectural firms Schauman & Nordgren and Schauman Arkkitehdit.
Newil&Bau Lehtisaaren Torni, living room
The color and material concepts of the apartments are designed by interior architects. A warm sand-colored scheme was chosen for this apartment in Lehtisaaren Torni.
Newil&Bau Insinööritalo, living room
Alvar Aalto’s Insinööritalo offers a natural setting for the Tank armchair and other design classics.

The new life of a 1970s office building

Newil&Bau is currently working on a new project, 76&Piha, at Mannerheimintie 76 in Helsinki. The project involves transforming a former office building from the 1970s into a modern residential building. The main architect of the project is Mika Penttinen, who began his career in 1971 in the architectural office of Matti Hakala, the original designer of the building.

“When we start a new project, we typically choose an architect through an ideation competition, where we ask for architectural proposals that respect the identity of the area. In 76&Piha, some proposed to partially or completely demolish the building, but Mika Penttinen’s suggestion was to use the original building as a starting point while highlighting the identity of the surrounding area and the Taka-Töölö district in general,” says Newil&Bau’s CEO Petri Ylivuori.

Newil&Bau CEO Petri Ylivuori
Petri Ylivuori founded Newil&Bau in 2020.
Newil&Bau 76&Piha, aerial view
76&Piha will consist of a total of 32 new apartments, with sizes ranging from 27 to 110 square meters. The house will have eight shared spaces tailored to residents’ needs, including a dedicated workspace for remote work.
Newil&Bau 76&Piha, facade
The facade will be cleaned and finished to match the original. On the courtyard side, new balconies will be built for each apartment.

With its typical 1970s aesthetics, the office building follows modular construction, which makes it easy to balance the sizes of the apartments. The starting point of the design is to combine the original structure with today’s housing solutions.

“As part of the renovation, the building's facade will be cleaned and restored to its original glory, and the windows, interiors, and technology will be updated to meet new construction standards. The building’s unique industrial-style details, such as parts of the structure, columns and bars, will be left visible.”

“The carbon footprint of 76&Piha’s construction is almost two-thirds smaller compared to an entirely new building.”

One of Newil&Bau's goals is to have a significantly smaller carbon footprint compared to conventional residential construction. A smaller carbon footprint is made possible by optimized design solutions and resource-saving material choices, as well as by preserving old structures whenever possible.

“The carbon footprint of 76&Piha’s construction is almost two-thirds smaller compared to an entirely new building, as we were able to preserve almost all of the large emission-causing parts, such as foundations, structure, facade and roof,” says Ylivuori.

Newil&Bau 76&Piha, rooftop terrace
Wooden elements bring warmth to the concrete building dating back to 1979. The penthouse apartment on the top floor has its own terrace.
Newil&Bau 76&Piha, swimming pool
The swimming pool and sauna were formerly used as representative premises of a local bank. The pool has access to a fireplace room, an indoor garden, and a terrace with a barbeque area.
Newil&Bau 76&Piha, bedroom
Some of the bedrooms at 76&Piha have no traditional windows, but light enters the space through a glass block wall. Opal glass tiles and acoustic glass effectively insulate noise, and the room is equipped with custom-made blackout curtains.

Curated by interior design professionals

In all Newil&Bau homes, special attention is paid to kitchen and bathroom concepts created by interior architects, as well as functionality and overall appearance and details of the apartments. The final look of the sites is perfected by landscape architects, who make sure that the outdoor areas are lush and nicely lit.

Residents will be able to choose their preferred color and material palette from pre-curated choices, and 3D modelings help visualize and furnish the space. Finnish Design Shop’s interior design service Studio designed a 3D model for one of the four-room apartments in 76&Piha.

Newil&Bau 76&Piha, 3D model of a living room
“For the dining area, we chose the Akademia chairs and Basic table from the Finnish company Nikari. The curved shapes of Eero Aarnio’s Parabel side table and Flos’ Almendra lamp soften the overall look while bringing a touch of art to the space,” says interior architect Maija Rasila.

“We aimed at creating an elegant urban interior that complements the architecture and adds a personal touch to it, drawing references from the industrial details of the building and the lush inner courtyard,” explains interior architect Maija Rasila from Finnish Design Shop Studio.

“We envisioned an apartment for residents who enjoy culture, Scandinavian design, art, and urban life. Our furniture choices are directed at people who appreciate sustainability, natural materials and durable furniture.”

Finnish Design Shop Studio specializes in interior solutions for private homes. Studio’s interior design professionals also assist in selecting colors and materials for furniture. “We wanted to keep the palette natural and subdued while having some pops of color to it: the light flooding in from the windows beautifully highlights the dark blue sofa and other small color accents in the interior,” Rasila says.

• Read the storyFinnish Design Shop Studio offers professional help with decorating your home >

Innovative and timeless housing

The identity and existing architecture of each area are the starting point for Newil&Bau when launching new projects. This does not mean that buildings should not stand out from their surroundings – instead, a well-designed building is in balance with its environment but also brings something new to it.

For example, Steven Holl’s Meander house by the Töölönlahti Bay is an exceptionally distinctive and eye-catching building, which still blends seamlessly with its surrounding buildings and natural forms.

Newil&Bau Meander housing, aerial view
With its winding form and green roof, Meander housing simultaneously stands out and blends into the landscape
Newil&Bau Meander housing, studio apartment
In addition to large lofts and representative apartments, Meander also offers compact city apartments. The Pavilion AV2 chairs are from MENU.
Newil&Bau Meander housing, wine room
Meander’s special features include a dedicated wine room as well as a small yoga studio and movie theater.

Similarly to 76&Piha, Alvar Aalto’s Insinööritalo (Engineer House) in the Punavuori district was originally designed for office use. The building, which was completed in 1951, originally housed the office of the Finnish Engineers’ Association and during the 1950s, Aalto’s own architectural firm operated in the building.

• Read the story: Meander housing is architect Steven Holl’s tribute to Alvar Aalto >

Insinööritalo also served as the studio of the first Finnish television channel, Tesvision – and in 1967, a Jimi Hendrix performance was recorded there. The building has also been used as a movie theater, restaurant and nightclub. In 1997, the building and its original interior decor were severely damaged by arson.

Newil&Bau Insinööritalo, facade
Insinööritalo is a protected building renovated in collaboration with the Finnish Heritage Agency and Alvar Aalto Foundation.
Newil&Bau Insinööritalo, hallway
Insinööritalo was inaugurated by President J.K. Paasikivi in 1951.
Newil&Bau Insinööritalo, kitchen
Alvar Aalto designed the Artek A110 pendant light, also known as “Hand Grenade”, specifically for Insinööritalo. The Atelier chairs are also by Artek.
Newil&Bau Insinööritalo, bathroom
This bathroom offers a view over the rooftops of Helsinki.

Renovated in collaboration with the Finnish Heritage Agency and Alvar Aalto Foundation, Insinööritalo now consists of 18 apartments with sizes varying from studios to a four-room penthouse apartment. The focus was on preserving and restoring as much old as possible: the original main staircase and brass-edged granite mosaic have been preserved, and the window frames have been restored to their original appearance. The kitchens, bathrooms and flooring follow Newil&Bau’s curated interior concepts.

Insinööritalo’s new residents were able to move in during the summer of 2022. The next Newil&Bau sites to welcome new residents are Lehtisaaren Torni and Lehtisaaren Terassi, which will be ready in 2023. 76&Piha and Meander are scheduled to be completed during 2024.

See also:

The Meander Collection at Finnish Design Shop >
Newil&Bau apartments >

Text: Nora Uotila Images: Newil&Bau and Carl Bergman

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