In English | Issue 2/2022

Finnish Design Shop, Turku

Finnish Design Shop, Turku
Photo credit: Kuvatoimisto Kuvio / Anders Portman

Finnish Design Shop is the world’s largest online store of Nordic design. The company’s fast growth accelerated during the pandemic, as physical stores needed to close their doors. The new building, headquarters of the company, comprises a logistics center delivering products to over one hundred countries, a showroom, and a restaurant.

The design task was challenging. The largescale building was mainly formed according to the requirements of the automated robot warehouse inside, and there was no possibility to articulate the building with massing or roof form. Even though the location right next to the Turku city ring road and near the airport allowed for a simple structure, the user wished for the building to represent the design company’s values of high quality and easy to approach.

Even though the building couldn’t tell about its use by its form, we didn’t want to design just “a decorated shed” as described in the classic book Learning from Las Vegas. We found the concept for the building in the near surroundings. Right north from the building plot, there is a nature conservation area and the third biggest boulder from ice age called the Devil’s Nest. The forest theme is visible in the facades having a vertical three dimensional pattern that reminds us of the tree trunks in the surrounding forest. As many trees as possible were preserved on the plot. The area was landscaped with natural forest undergrowth and stones excavated from the site. The parking lot was divided into smaller units with green areas with domestic trees and vegetation found in the wild nature. The building’s large windows offer unobstructed views to the surrounding forest. There is direct access to the outdoors both from the restaurant’s terrace, and from the first floor office spaces through a long balcony.

The façade is built with sandwich elements made of concrete. The timetable of the project, which started in late spring of 2020, was very tight. The building needed to be in use already by summer of 2021, so that there would be no harm to the coming Christmas sales that is the high season of online stores. This is why we ended up using readymade concrete form liner Brisbane produced by Recli. Even though the relief is just 15 millimeters deep, the appearance of the surface changes according to the sun angle making the pattern look deeper and more three dimensional. The pattern introduces a smaller scale to the large scale façade surface. The relief is visible only when you walk near the wall making the approach of the building interesting. To optimize the building costs, the concrete has basic aggregate and typical Portland cement. The concrete was colored with 6 % black Bayferrox pigment produced by Lanxess. The surface was treated with black Faceal Color varnish to make the black surface more intense and to blend the building to its surroundings.

The entrance vestibule marking the main entrance of the building and first floor balcony are clad with wood to contrast the black concrete surfaces. Wooden windows and doors also bring warmth to the exterior of the building.

The entrance to the building is through a showroom. The high space with glass curtain walls showcase the use of the building to its surroundings. The space is characterized by a long straight stair made of two massive glulam beans, leading to the first floor office spaces. The whole gallery level opens up to the logistics hall with the ever moving robot collection system through full width windows.

The building was the first BREEAM Excellent (the second highest level) certified logistics building in Finland. This ambitious goal was achieved with help from a life cycle assessment expert. The energy needed in the building is produced by geothermal heat powered by electricity from solar panels, and the sustainability measures were taken care of in all design solutions and building works.

Read the entire article in Finnish and see the images >>