New senior apartments in North Helsinki – here is how the apartments take accessibility into account 

Three new apartment buildings intended for seniors have been completed in Ylä-Malmi, Helsinki. This senior location has its own special characteristics to make residents’ life easier.

21.9.2023 11:00 | Written by: Teemu Simola | Photos by: Timo Porthan
A new block of houses with glazed balconies.
Salavakuja 2 in Ylä-Malmi is Heka's newest senior apartment house.

A complex of three apartment buildings has been completed at Salavakuja 2, featuring a total of 91 apartments for residents over the age of 55. The buildings are in a good location, as the neighbourhood also features Syystie Service Centre, Malmi Hospital and Malmi Health Station.

“The Salavakuja 2 project began in 2017, with construction commencing four years later. The three three-storey apartment buildings previously located on the plot, completed in 1979, were demolished to make room for the new buildings. As a whole, the project went well without any major surprises along the way,” says Project Manager Kalevi Väänänen from the City of Helsinki’s Housing Production Department.

The apartments are studio and two-room apartments. In total, the apartments of the buildings have 3,987 square metres of area, bringing the average apartment size to 43.8 square metres. The buildings also feature 558 square metres of shared premises, such as sauna, laundry and lounging facilities.

A yellow corridor in a new house.
At Salavakuja 2, attention has been paid to easy mobility and accessibility.

Easy mobility and living

“Heka has been monitoring the progress of the project, discussing matters with the City’s Housing Production Department whenever needed. Because this is a senior location, the discussions have usually had to do with special solutions implemented in the buildings, such as those related to ease of mobility and accessibility. For example, the doors of the apartments are equipped with automated opening and locking functions for ease of mobility,” says Property Manager Jari Rodriquez from Heka.

Indeed, senior apartments need to take several aspects facilitating mobility and use of the apartment into account. All three buildings feature more spacious lifts than usual to facilitate their use with a walker or a wheelchair. The dimensions of the apartment facilities also follow this principle.

“The free width of the bathroom door openings is 85 cm, and the bathrooms feature 150 cm of turning space instead of the standard 130 cm. There is also 80 cm of free space next to the toilet seats. Additionally, the showers are placed lower than normal. There are no thresholds between the rooms, only low threshold ramps that do not hinder mobility,” says Team Manager Timo Karhu from the City of Helsinki Housing Production Department about the solutions implemented.

The bottom cabinets of the kitchens are drawers, so there is no need to reach inside them.

“The stoves are modern induction stoves with a stove guard, but instead of touch buttons, they feature conventional knobs that are readily visible and usable,” Karhu explains.

“The balconies of the apartments feature wooden slabs that raise the floor height. This eliminates the height difference between the apartment and the balcony, making mobility easier. Additionally, the lobby of every apartment features a spacious wheelchair storage,” Kalevi Väänänen continues.

Assistive devices available for non-senior apartments as well

Apartment-specific accessories and assistive devices are also available for apartments not intended only for seniors.

“If needed, tenants can ask Heka for accessories for their apartment, such as wall handles and access ramps. We forward these requests to the City of Helsinki’s senior and disability services, who then investigate the cases and implement additional solutions on a case-by-case basis,” Jari Rodriquez says.