Modernisation project brought on geothermal heating and solar panels - check out before and after photos

The modernised Heka apartments at Gunillantie, Laajasalo, will have new ventilation and geothermal heating systems. 

Written by Petja Partanen Photos by Sami Heiskanen

Gunillantie 6 is a large housing location with 289 homes in the old section of the Laajasalo district. The buildings are already about 50 years old, which is why they will now be modernised in a project amounting to 39 million euros. In January 2022, the modernisation project on the first three buildings at Svanströminkuja 1 was completed, and tenants moved in to their homes that now have new surfaces, kitchens and bathrooms. The next three buildings are being modernised at Svanströminkuja 3, and work on the last three will begin in early 2023 at Gunillantie 6.  

Kaksi kuvaa, joissa vertaillaan Gunillantien asuntojen keittiöitä ennen ja jälkeen peruskorjauksen.
Inside the apartments, all surfaces, kitchen fixtures and bathrooms were renovated. Picture on the left shows kitchen before the renovation and picture on the right shows the kitchen after the renevation.

As the head designer of the modernisation project, architect Timo Hyvärinen bears a heavy responsibility. He coordinates the planning group, supervises the schedules, attends tenants’ events and receives the work stages of the project. 

With the first third of the project now behind him, Hyvärinen is quite pleased. 

“The results and level of quality look good,” he praises. 

After the modernisation project, the apartments are as good as new. Hyvärinen says that the buildings at Gunillantie are excellent examples of the architecture of their time – and even more comfortable than modern residential buildings, in some ways. 

“The bathrooms are smaller, while the bedrooms and living spaces are larger than in modern buildings.”  

In a building from the 1970s with a narrow frame, there is plenty of light indoors. The apartments of the three newly renovated buildings have windows facing two directions.  

“The most significant improvement concerns the bathrooms’ functionality,” Hyvärinen says. 

Now the bathrooms can fit both a washer and a dryer, for example. 

Kaksi kuvaa, joissa vertaillaan Gunillantien talojen rappukäytäviä ennen ja jälkeen peruskorjauksen.
The hallways were repainted during the modernisation project. Picture on the left shows hallway before the renovation and picture on the right shows the hallway after the renevation.

However, the most significant changes made during a modernisation project are not visible on the surface. You can see hints of these changes in the new ventilation machines and solar panels on the roof, as well as the geothermal wells dug in the yard. 

The mechanical ventilation prevents the draught as the heat from the exhaust air heats up the air supply into the apartments. Similarly, the geothermal heating system and solar panels reduce the energy costs and lower the pressure to raise the rent in times when energy prices are rapidly rising. 

Kaksi kuvaa, joissa vertaillaan Gunillantien asuntojen olohuonetilaa ennen ja jälkeen peruskorjauksen.
The entire electrotechnology system of the buildings was rebuilt. There are more sockets, and electrical connections also reach the glazed balconies. Picture on the left shows the room before the renovation and picture on the right shows the room after the renevation.

An energy renovation project in connection with a modernisation project not only benefits the tenants, but also the environment. Heka’s property manager Kai Juurtela, who had planned the project for years, says that the aim is to cut the location’s energy consumption down by a third in connection with the renovations. This goal will also be achieved at Gunillantie.  

“For most of the year, the location will be heated with geothermal heating. In cold weather, geothermal heating will come into play,” Juurtela says.  

Gunillantie is one of the first Heka locations to use geothermal heating, so experiences of it are being followed with great interest. Tenants are able to monitor the trends in their building’s consumption of water, heat and electricity via Heka’s tenant pages and website. 

Peruskorjauksilla laadukasta asumista vuosikymmeniksi

In a modernisation project, a building or facility is renovated to be as good as new. Typically, a modernisation project involves a renovation of the facade, roof and pipes. Other changes include the replacement of the floor structures, complete renovations of the kitchens and bathrooms, weatherproofing the walls, and dividing the apartments. 

When a Heka location is being renovated, its tenants will not be left without a home; Heka will arrange temporary housing for them for the duration of the project.  

Visit Gunillantie 6 through Youtube-video

Gunillantie 6 

  • Eight five-storey apartment buildings and one two-storey group home, the latter of which will have nine new Heka homes. Year of construction: 1970. 
  • The modernisation project started in early 2021. The first stage was completed in January 2022, the second phase will be completed in early 2023, and the third in 2024. 
  • Shared facilities: Eight shared saunas, three laundry rooms, a club room, a playground, storage compartments and storage rooms for outdoor sports equipment. 
  • 211 parking spaces. 
  • Building management and maintenance: Heka southeastern office 
  • The average rent per square metre is EUR 13.15/month for the modernised apartments, EUR 10.84/month for the unrenovated ones.