Demanding repair construction design is UKI’s strong asset and interesting work, where many surprises challenge the designer

UKI Arkkitehdit and its employees have wide experience in demanding end extremely demanding repair construction projects during several decades. Repair construction competence deepened even more recently, when the Laatio team brought along diverse restauration experience, for example. ”Repairing buildings generally contributes to sustainable development”, UKI’s experienced repair construction designers say.

”Repair construction design requires genuine interest in style history, old building methods and materials, which makes it an exceptionally interesting part of an architect’s work”, describes architect Weikko Kotila.

”At the same time, you also need knowledge of new techniques and building methods as well as the building’s usage and maintenance history. New building regulations and guidelines for the carbon footprint, for example, tend to modify the building and its engineering, which challenges the repair construction designer”, architect Nina Hokka adds about the requirements of the work.

Compared to designing new buildings, repair construction always brings surprises to designers, architects Marjaana Harjapää and Pauli Koivisto say. A considerable part of designer work is negotiation with various authorities, site organisations and the user. There are more site visits than in new building projects, and surprises come one after the other. Dismantling old structures inevitably uncovers issues that are hard to anticipate.

The designer needs to have a flexible attitude and strong will when surprises on the site require quick reaction on the drawing board.

”I recall positive feedback from a developer engineer of a big customer to UKI’s team about how we get to work at once and don’t put things off with various excuses. It requires flexibility and adjusting to situations”, says Koivisto.

”A good customer relationship develops when you discuss openly and listen to the client. It is our way of doing this customer service work, not only in repair construction but in all our work. The whole design team needs to work together, and everyone must have the same goal”, summarises Hokka.

Restoration is a new competence at UKI

UKI Arkkitehdit has several decades and a hundred professional’s experience and competence in demanding renovation projects, learning environments and commercial and office buildings. With the Laatio team, UKI acquired more special competence for extensive and demanding renovation projects, various renovation and history reports and restauration.

All this means an impressive list of significant projects as references.

”A quite extensive renovation and internal air improvement project is currently underway at Oulu City Hall. There is also another similar project with a pending repairability report, which is a quite new tool for assessing the repairability of a building from several angles in the town planning phase, for example”, says Weikko Kotila.

Other notable indications of design competence include the very extensive and demanding renovation and expansion project of the Stockmann department store in Helsinki, where renovations and new construction took place simultaneously while the store was operational all the time. Uusi Seurahuone in a distinguished location in Oulu on the side of the market square was restored to its original splendour.

Apart from extensive restauration, Oulu Cathedral received a completely new layer of interior architecture. A good example of recent projects is the PSOAS student dormitory in Linnamaa, which was implemented in an office building designed 30 years ago by architectural firm Laatio.

Pauli Koivisto has been busy already for several years with the thorough renovation and alteration project at the Pohjankartano school in Oulu. The premises of the traditional building are developed to meet the requirements of the new curriculum and present-day needs – respecting the legacy at the same time. Currently, Nina Hokka has a demanding renovation project on her table, Ainola day care centre. Here the designer is motivated by the goal to implement a building with good internal air – a  fit and healthy place for children as well as staff. Marjaana Harjapää’s current job is the renovation of surgical unit K at the HUS Jorvi hospital.

Designer fulfils client’s needs and construction requirements

Marjaana Harjapää points out that renovation is expressly architect-driven activity where the designer must ensure that the client’s goals and the latest building regulations are fulfilled. When the starting point is an existing building, a lot of people with their wishes are involved in the design and construction.

”All projects are important and interesting in their diversity. In pipe repair, for example, it’s highly important for the residents that the work is done correctly”, she says.

As his favourite project, Weikko Kotila names an exceptionally challenging dignified building with multiple problems. As a designer, Nina Hokka is especially attracted to major repair projects, where you can freely modify the interior. For her, changing the building usage is enjoyable work where designing the functionality is fascinating.

Pauli Koivisto has thought of himself as a renovator, but lately he has become involved also in  big public construction projects. In renovation projects, the experienced renovator is attracted to the related framework and preconditions, which simultaneously restrict and on the other hand present an interesting challenge to the design work. Modifying old premises into new ones, improving functionality and bringing new functions to premises are the most interesting tasks for Pauli.

Renovation covers about half of all construction today, Nina Hokka and Weikko Kotila calculate.

”The amount has tripled in 40 years and is rising all the time.”