Up to 40 architects involved in the design of the massive Laakso Hospital

Up to 40 architects involved in the design of the massive Laakso Hospital – the modern hospital has been designed to blend in with its historical surroundings.

The Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa (HUS) and the City of Helsinki joined forces to renovate the hospital area in Laakso as part of the Laakso Joint Hospital project. After completion, Laakso Joint Hospital will primarily serve patients in the psychiatric hospital care of HUS and the City of Helsinki. In the new hospital, the area’s history comes together with light and cosy patient facilities located in small units. The functionality of patient rooms will be tested in a shopping centre’s parking facility.

The Laakso Joint Hospital project involves about 40 architects from four companies. Such a large number of architects is required to ensure the availability of diverse design expertise throughout the large-scale renovation and construction project, which will last until 2030. The project’s groundbreaking ceremony was held in the Laakso hospital area on 6 October 2023.

The main challenge in the hospital project has been to design the 120,000 square metre main building to be built on a sloping plot so that it blends in with the surrounding cityscape and the existing buildings. The main building will be built along Urheilukatu on rocky terrain.

“The main building will occupy an area that corresponds to three football pitches. In terms of cityscape, our goal is to make the building look less massive than it is,” notes architect Martin Boyadgian from AW2 Architects.

In the Laakso hospital area, two new hospital buildings and underground parking and service facilities will be built. A new main access route from Auroranportti to the underground spaces will also be built. The Laakso and Meilahti hospital areas will be connected by a logistics tunnel. The two existing hospital buildings, originally designed for treating tuberculosis patients, will be renovated.

The new main building’s colour palette, light tiling and the shape and positioning of the windows are designed to create a harmonious balance with the old buildings dating back to the 1920s. The building plinth repeats the colours and textures of the rocky terrain that dominates the plot. The area’s history is evident in the way the windows in the main building’s lobby are designed to afford beautiful views of the old buildings.

The hospital area will be used by HUS Psychiatric Hospital and Helsinki City Hospital. The architect group Laakson LATU, which consists of architecture companies Lukkaroinen, AW2 Architects, which is part of AINS Group, Tähti-Set and UKI Arkkitehdit, is responsible for the principal and architectural design of the project realised as an alliance.

“The group’s joint view and success is built on seamless communications and data management and jointly agreed practices,” describes Architect Anna Lohilahti from Lukkaroinen Arkkitehdit.

Glass walls and large windows let in natural light

To achieve a lighter appearance for the building, some functions will be located on underground floors and the plot’s rocky terrain and existing trees will be utilised in the positioning of the building. A recreational yard for patients and a public park will be located in front of the main building, which will be lower on the side of the street.

The main building will be formed by two sections in the shape of the letter H. These building sections will be joined by a lighter structure made partly of glass. Even though the building in itself will be large, the staff and customers will be placed in small units with 16–19 beds in each. The main building will house a total of 790 beds.

Each floor will have a clear, airy main corridor. The glass walls, which will be positioned on the same side of the building, will make it easier to orientate wtihin the building. Patient rooms will also have large windows, and the wards will have spacious balconies and shared lobbies.

The lower floors will house a staff canteen, a therapy centre that will offer rehabilitation services, scanning services, instrument care facilities and a central kitchen.

Model rooms used to test functionality

The functionality of the facilities is designed in collaboration with a large number of users, including care professionals and technical staff. Testing has been carried out in model rooms built in the parking facility of the Mall of Tripla, using furnishing made of plywood.

“The facilities must be tested using actual equipment and furnishing as functionality and safety may be a matter of a few centimetres. On the basis of visualisations alone, it is difficult for a nurse to estimate whether a bed can be manoeuvred in the space or if there is sufficient space for washing a patient,” explains principal designer Toni Väisänen from the architectural company Tähti-Set.

More model rooms will be built later in a temporary building on the Laakso riding field, where materials and furnishing will be tested for functionality.

The main building will house psychiatric wards and acute care and rehabilitation facilities, palliative care and hospice facilities for elderly patients and neurological rehabilitation facilities.

“We have sought solutions that are functional and safe for various patient groups. Different facilities are required in the treatment of psychiatric and somatic illnesses,” points out architect Raija-Liisa Miesmaa from UKI Arkkitehdit.

On psychiatric wards, toilet facilities will be placed on the corridor side of the room to afford patients more privacy. On other wards, toilets will be located at one end of the room on the side of the exterior wall. This makes it easier to monitor the patient, and the area by the entrance door will have space for care equipment. The building is designed so that the toilet facilities can be moved later, if necessary.

Wood gives a warm appearance to the interior spaces

In the design of the interior of the main building, the main goals included comfort and a timeless appearance.

Wood will be used as a material for the ceilings and the lobbies to bring added warmth and style to the spaces and to facilitate easy orientation. The spaces will also be adorned by works of art.

“The hospital area will serve not only as a place to recuperate for patients but also as a work environment for thousands of people. At its best, the hospital’s design will signal to families and residents that people are taken good care of here,” notes Väisänen.

Further information:

Toni Väisänen, Principal designer, Architectural firm Tähti-Set
Tel. +358 400 784 198

Martin Boyadgian, Architect, AW2 Architects – part of AINS Group
Tel. +358 45 882 8388

Anna Lohilahti, Architect, Lukkaroinen Arkkitehdit
Tel. +358 50 409 5229

Raija-Liisa Miesmaa, Architect, UKI Arkkitehdit
Tel. +358 50 310 4883

Hospital operations will begin in stages in 2028

– The construction of the joint hospital was commissioned by real estate company Laakson yhteissairaala, which is owned by the City of Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District (HUS).

– The project is implemented by the Laakso Joint Hospital alliance, with SRV as the man contractor. Structural and rock engineering as well as geoengineering are carried by the Unitas joint venture, which includes AFRY and AINS Group. Granlund is responsible for HVAC engineering and energy and life cycle design.

– Construction work kicked off in spring 2022 with preliminary work. Hospital operations will begin in stages in 2028. The hospital complex is slated for completion in 2030.

– Laakso Joint Hospital will also include Ohkola hospital in Mäntsälä, where forensic psychiatry patients will be treated.

The estimated total cost is about a billion euros. The gross floor area of the new buildings (including Ohkola) is 123,000 m2.

Read press release by the alliance on the groundbreaking ceremony:

Read AINS Group’s earlier news item on underground construction in the Laakso Joint Hospital project (in Finnish):

Read more about the hospital on the project’s website:

Watch a YouTube video to see what the Laakso Joint Hospital area will look like: