Nature themes are highlighted in the competition entries for the wooden office building in Katajanokka – the submissions for the architectural competition have been published

Varma’s office building planned for Katajanokka inspired architects to turn to nature themes such as the forest and the sea for the look and feel of the building. The competition entries for the architectural competition held in the spring have now been published. The wooden building will house Stora Enso’s head office and a hotel.

Six architectural firms from Finland, the other Nordic countries and Japan participated in the architectural competition, which was organized as an international invited competition. Forest, sea or nature are present in several competition entries. The facades of the entries draw on neoclassical lines as well as undulating shapes and wooden lattices that play with light and the seascape.

“Our goal is to develop high-quality office premises in Katajanokka, in the heart of Helsinki, that coincide with the landscape and the urban surroundings. The competition entries satisfy this goal well, and we received very high-quality proposals,” says Ilkka Tomperi, Investment Director, Real Estate Investments at Varma which is the project developer and property owner.

“Many of the entries also fulfilled the goal set in the architectural competition regarding life-cycle thinking. The premises were designed to be flexible so that the intended use of the building can be changed as needed. Modifiable spaces support the functionality and long lifespan of the building,” Tomperi adds.

Carbon-neutral building as a goal

The aim is to make the building, named Katajanokan Laituri, carbon neutral, so it would have a zero carbon footprint throughout its entire life-cycle. The building will house Stora Enso’s head office, a hotel and other premises. Stora Enso’s massive wooden elements are used as construction material, helping to reduce global warming and the use of non-renewable resources.

“In recent years, Stora Enso has delivered massive wooden elements to more than 15,000 wood construction sites around the world. This project is very special and important to us, because as the renewable products company, Stora Enso naturally wants its head office to be made of wood. We are glad to be creating top-level work spaces for our personnel,” says Antto Kauhanen, Business Development Stora Enso Wood Products division.

City of Helsinki aims to make the Katajanokka seashore livelier

The City of Helsinki is committed to developing Helsinki by promoting the vitality of the city centre, among other things. The plan is to create a walking route between the seashore and the building, so that street-level operators could take advantage of the outdoor spaces by the sea, for example by opening terraces. 

“From the viewpoint of the City of Helsinki, our goal for developing the Katajanokka area is to create an active urban space, construct a new waterfront facade and enable a more diverse use of the seashore. In the densely built Helsinki of the future, there must be an urban space open to residents, which is of great importance in this project as well,” says Anni Sinnemäki, Deputy Mayor of Urban Environment.

The winning entry will be selected in June

The City of Helsinki is preparing an amendment for the detailed city plan of the Katajanokka area, which is a prerequisite for construction to start. The materials for the draft detailed plan are currently available for public assessment. The publication of the competition entries is timed to coincide with the city plan preparation phase so that there can be an open public discussion on the entries.

The architectural competition is arranged in accordance with the rules of the Finnish Association of Architects, SAFA, and the jury will select the winner in June. The jury is made up of representatives from Varma, Stora Enso, SAFA and the City of Helsinki. When assessing the competition entries, the jury does not know which architectural firm has created which design. 

The competition entries are available in Varma’s material bank. Check out also text descriptions provided by the architectural firms and videos of scale models.

You can also follow the project online at

The premises are expected to be completed in 2023.

The competition entries





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Further information:

  • Ilkka Tomperi, Investment Director, Real Estate Investments, Varma, tel. +358 50 379 1903
  • Marjut Tervola, Communications Manager, Varma, tel. +358 45 673 0120
  • Satu Härkönen, SVP, Communications, Stora Enso, tel. +358 40 832 7458
  • Marjaana Yläjääski, Senior Architect, City of Helsinki, tel. +358 9 310 37045


Varma Mutual Pension Insurance Company is a responsible and solvent investor. The company is responsible for the statutory earnings-related pension cover of some 900,000 people in the private sector. Premiums written totalled EUR 5.3 billion in 2019 and pension payments stood at EUR 5.9 billion. The company’s investment portfolio amounted to EUR 43.6 billion at the end of March 2020. 

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