The renovation of Susitie 2 cherished the spirit of the 50s

Susitie 2 is Heka’s gem from the 1950s that received entirely new building services engineering as part of a renovation project. Conversely, visible surfaces were restored to their original appearance as requested by the City Museum.

Written by Petja Partanen Photos by Sami Heiskanen

The oldest Heka location in Eastern Helsinki is in Länsi-Herttoniemi, at Susitie 2. After a renovation project, the 156 flats in the site shine as if they were brand new, just like when they were first completed in 1952, the year of the Helsinki Olympics.

“This has been a long project,” says Construction Architect Tuija Peltonen from Keiko ARK architecture agency.

The first renovation plans were completed as early as 2016. The buildings, deemed by the City Museum to have cultural and historical value, would have new surfaces and a complete overhaul of their kitchens and bathrooms. However, more detailed surveys showed that the ventilation ducts were in poor condition and would need to be renewed, as would all interior walls in the flats. Finally, it was decided that the ventilation and electricity systems of the valuable buildings would be reconstructed using modern technology.

Heka location Susitie 2 in its entirety; an aerial photo taken with a drone.
The renovation project at Susitie started in winter 2018. The first phase of the renovation project was completed in 2020, and the second phase will be completed in September 2021.

“Conversely, the flats were restored to their original 1950s appearance,” says Peltonen.

This can be seen in many small details, such as the kitchen cabinets. The cabinets’ visible frames and nickel-plated handles will surely speak to those interested in style. The cabinets were custom-made in a 1950s style, and the grey-green colour was chosen together with the tenants.

After the renovations started, more challenges were discovered. The plaster of the facades was in such poor condition that even the facades needed to be rebuilt. 

“The prolonging of the project was unpleasant for the tenants, but repairing the facade during the same project was definitely worthwhile,” Peltonen says.

The results were absolutely worth the trouble. The modern 1950s architecture has withstood time well.

The tenants’ wishes were taken into consideration in the Susitie renovations

At the City Museum’s recommendation, lifts were not built in the four-story buildings as they would have broken the mood in the stairways in their original form. Instead, a colour survey was carried out in the stairways, which revealed the original colour choices.

“Now, they are painted with original accent colours from the 1950s, which are sophisticated and intense.”

Kitchen of a renovated Heka flat located at Susitie 2.
The kitchen cabinets in the flats were custom-made in a 50s style.

During the renovation project, the bathrooms were made more spacious, and their doors were widened to meet modern standards. The original windows and balcony doors were replaced to improve energy efficiency. At the tenants’ request, the trees of the park-like yard were mostly preserved as they were.

Susitie 2 is located in the esteemed Länsi-Herttoniemi district 

For the planners, renovating an old building is always more challenging that constructing a new building, Peltonen says. The planner became familiar with many Susitie tenants, since Peltonen spent a lot of time inventorying and measuring the facilities at the site even before the construction work started. Fitting modern building services engineering into a building from the 1950s was not entirely simple.

“This has been a nice project. We’ve tried to get good results at a reasonable price. Hats off to Heka for renovating old buildings!”

Renovated Heka building and yard at Susitie 2, Herttoniemi.
People like it at Susitie. Of the tenants of the flats to be completed, more than a half have stated they will return to their home here.

The areas of Helsinki surrounding Susitie have grown and changed in 70 years. Soon after the buildings were originally completed, the Itäväylä road was constructed, as well as the metro in the 1980s. Today, the Länsi-Herttoniemi district built between Herttoniemi and Siilitie metro stations is an esteemed residential area with residents of all ages. For the youngest Susitie tenants, there is a daycare centre right in their home yard. Great recreational paths and the nature reserve of Vanhankaupunginlahti are also located close by.

Watch a video of the renovated apartments of Susitie (the video is in Finnish):

 

Susitie 2 

  • Three four-story blocks of flats and an exterior building with a daycare centre and shared facilities. Year of construction: 1952.
  • The renovation project started in winter 2018. The renovation of building A and the exterior building was completed in 2020; the renovation of buildings B and C (84 flats in total) will be completed in September 2021.
  • Shared facilities: laundry room, sauna, club room, two crafts rooms, storage compartments.
  • 39 parking spaces with electrical connections, four garages.
  • Building management and maintenance: Heka southeastern office.
  • The average rent in 2021 is €12.48/m2/month.
  • A total of 156 flats