Safe and pleasant life at a senior centre in Myllypuro

An old hospital was turned into a senior centre through a renovation project that lasted a few years. The building is already full of tenants.

    Written by Tarja Västilä Photos by Anni Koponen

    In the lobby of Myllypuro senior centre, visitors are first greeted with art: a stone sphere is gently turning in a fountain.

    “A rolling stone gathers no moss,” says Technical Property Manager Ville Varjonen.

    The phrase is very fitting for a senior centre with over a hundred places for residents for long-term housing and short-term care. In addition to art, you can also find the helpful building managers in the lobby. Next to the lobby, there is a restaurant and a library, both of which are open to all.

    The building also houses a service centre, a daytime activity unit, an activity centre for informal care and facilities of the home care services.

    The senior centre pictured from the parking lot.
    An old hospital was renovated into a functional senior centre with room for 136 residents.

    The old hospital was renovated into a modern centre full of state-of-the-art technology. According to Varjonen, all that remains of the former building are the walls, foundation columns and lifts.

    “As a whole, the project was fascinating, challenging and educational for all parties,” states Project Manager Katja Silén from the City of Helsinki’s housing production unit.

    Silén says that, from the developer’s perspective, the project did involve some challenges, which also caused it to be delayed by about three months.

    “The building renovation project itself did not involve any significant problems. However, the building’s dimensions are from the 1970s, the decade when it was originally constructed. Modern hospital beds are wider than the doors from the 70s, so we had to disassemble and re-assemble the beds to get them in,” Varjonen explains.

    Safety is a key factor

    Special attention has been paid to safety. The fire safety systems were upgraded in full: the centre now has an automatic extinguisher and fire alarm system. There are sprinklers even on the balconies.

    There are white furniture at the balcony.
    There are various shared spaces on each floor of the senior centre.

    Other safety devices include the residents’ smart wristbands, alarm buttons in the rooms and pull cords in the bathrooms that can be used to alert the nurses when necessary. All areas are accessible by wheelchair.

    “We also paid attention to accessibility in the fixtures. For example, you can adjust the height of the kitchen worktops,” Silén says.

    In addition to residents’ rooms, there are also staff facilities on the floors, such as safe medication distribution rooms that are only accessible with a smart key. Varjonen says that the smart lock system includes data on the access rights, time limits and lists for blocking the keys.

    The senior centre facilities are very spacious, even if some of the vertical space is taken up by technology, including dozens of gigantic ventilation machines. There are also solar cells on the roof.

    Picture of The shower and toilet facilities.
    The shower and toilet facilities are equipped with safety devices and assistive equipment. The fire extinguisher and alarm system also ensures safety in all rooms.

    “The feeling of space has calming effect: there is room for relaxing and breathing. The centre is almost like a small city with all of its functions,” Varjonen explains.

    Myllymatkantien 4

    • The renovation project took place from April 2019 to August 2021.
    • Designed by Kirsti Sivén & Asko Takala Arkkitehdit Oy; developed by City of Helsinki Housing Production
    • 136 beds for residents: 11 group homes with 12–13 places
    • Rooms sized 20‒26.5 m²
    • 59 parking spaces
    • The shared spaces on the upper floors include a recreation and dining room, a kitchen-living room, a large balcony, a sauna and a fireplace room, while the downstairs spaces contain a restaurant, a library and a gym.
    • In the yard, there is a terrace area, a recreation area, a gym area, benches and plants.
    • Maintenance: Heka southeastern office
    • Property management: Heka, special housing