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UPM Group Headquarters
Helsinki, Finland, 2013


Client: UPM-Kymmene Corporation
Location: Töölönlahti Bay, Helsinki, Finland
Year of completion: 2013
Gross area: 15 800 brm²

The predecessor of the recently completed headquarters was built a hundred years ago on the corner of Eteläranta and Esplanadi, the best location for its time. Töölönlahti landowners, the City of Helsinki, and the State offered the best of today's sites to successfully internationalized large Finnish companies. UPM seized the opportunity and organized the first international architectural competition for the new range of office blocks. At that point, the city plan had to be followed precisely.

The context of Töölönlahti is special, with a group of buildings representing exceptionally strong architecture from different eras: the National Museum, Railway Station, Parliament and its annex, Finlandia Hall, Kiasma. The UPM building was designed for this situation. Nothing was known of its new neighbours, or of the Central Library. This is a very common situation in city construction.

UPM set a target of cutting-edge architecture, both functionally and aesthetically. The reasons for those aims lay in the company's long history at the heart of Finnish industrial and social development. The city plan did not allow for maximum use of wood; the building is a combination of wooden surfaces and planning regulations. The abstracted formal themes of the exterior relate to wood: the Bioforum gallery is part of a tree stump; the bridge across Alvar Aalto Street is a bevelled polyhedron. Both are clad in timber. Ecology and advanced energy saving are represented by helical sunshades, the refined steel mesh of which is the same material as the woven wire used in processing paper. The floors of the outdoor terraces are prepared from UPM ProFi boarding.

An integral part of the façade system is 60 mm thick UPM plywood. This system provides the most visible element in the wooden window frame structure. Components from mechanical wood processing have been used extensively for the interior. The guest conference rooms and the corridor areas of the office floors have curved, ash-veneered suspended ceiling surfaces made from UPM Grada panels. Wisa-Phon panels are used on the walls of the guest conference rooms to provide a veneer-surfaced soundproof wall structure.

The main spatial element of the interior is the informal atrium, which allows for closer communication and gives the building an integral part of its identity. Adjacent to the entrance is Bioforum gallery, a high cone-shaped space which enables product and art exhibitions and other small-scale events. Conference centre on the ground floor swirls around the atrium – guests are received in the bright café area in the lofty atrium. Workspaces are designed for 450 employees. All workspaces, management included, are open-plan. New and distinctive solutions make the group work and brainstorming spaces differ from the ordinary. The potential of the site is exploited in numerous west-facing terraces.