Pride of place in Lohja

Lohi shopping center in Lohja is easily accessible and recognizable, and is just the right size for the center of a mid-sized city. In a way, the shopping center was a counter-reaction to urban development, where commercial premises are built alongside main roads and intersections outside urban centers.

Located in the center of Lohja, an hour’s drive from Helsinki, the building was opened to the public on September 5, 2019. The shopping center is home to 15 stores and 4 restaurants, and has a surface area of 22,000 square meters spread over 3 floors. The underground basement is given over to parking facilities.

Ruukki supplied Ruukki Life sandwich panels, which have mineral insulation made from recycled material, for the shopping center walls. Ruukki panels were also used inside the shopping center between fire compartments. Most of the façade was clad with pale lamella panels supplied by Ruukki. The lamella color imitates the snow in the sunshine. A perforated Ruukki Emotion façade system with background lighting was installed both on the curved façade and other façades to synchronize the wall surface.

Lohja’s town plan imposed strict conditions on the shape of the building, including the curved façade.

“Unlike at the design development stage, we wanted to bring color and light to the curved corner. We discussed the matter with the construction company and Ruukki, and perforated lamella turned out to be a good way to highlight the curved corner,” says architect Heikki Käppi, who designed the building.

Central location was a challenge

Architect Heikki Käppi joined the project after it had already started. The central location and strict conditions, as well as earlier drafts, also posed a challenge for design, as did the size of the building in the townscape.

The shopping center has improved the looks of the surroundings. City of Lohja town plan architect Juha Anttila says that the curved façade, especially on the roundabout side, now takes pride and place in the city center. The block has been re-integrated into the commercial center of Lohja.

“The perforated ruddy panel used as a façade highlight initially caused some surprise in the construction stage, but the color looks far from gloomy in the gray October weather. The restrained façade lighting behind the lamella panels has received favorable comments. The same theme is also repeated in the external glass barriers,” says Juha Anttila.

Sokos department store and S-market are the largest retailers in the shopping center and continue the block’s traditions. Suur-seudun osuuskauppa cooperative has been here since 1927.

Boosted by a planning change

Juha Anttila thinks that Lohja’s component master plan that entered into force in 2016 has driven development of the area. The area has been given a facelift now that the streets have been renovated and many buildings have renovated their façades. Under the town plan, the block should form a cohesive unity and appearance of the buildings should enhance the quality and pleasantness of the urban city center environment and construction must be in harmony with the surroundings.

Lohi shopping center looks elegant in every direction and in a way each façade is a main façade. The technical areas, such as loading bays and service areas, of commercial buildings often disfigure the townscape. The town plan stated that parking, waste management, service, storage and technical facilities together with the structures required by mechanical and electrical systems must not be conspicuous in the façades.

Design overcame the challenges

“Of course it feels great to see the finished building completed that was handed over to the customer on schedule,” says Pasi Siikaluoma, production manager at construction company Jatke Oy, after the project.

Construction company Jatke Oy had lead responsibility for the construction project, which besides actual construction work also included overall design responsibility.

The construction project began by demolishing the old buildings from different era on the site and actual construction work started in August 2017 and lasted two years. The building phase lasted just over two years.

Pasi Siikaluoma explains that the logistics in the city center required careful planning since there were no large areas for storage around the building.

The shape of the building also posed challenges. The building is built using long beams, which it would have been impossible to install from the building sides. This was resolved by installing the beams outwards from inside the building. Since there are no right angles in the building frame, this meant more in-situ construction at the seams of the hollow core slabs.

Curved façade using right-angled products

If we return to construction and the intricacies of a curved façade, a wall of sandwich panels was built behind the façade lamella panels and lighting. The challenge was how to install the lamella panels on top of the rectangular panels to create a seamless, curved wall.

“We managed to do this well, thanks to precision planning. An exact installation plan was drawn up for each purlin on which the lamellas were affixed. A vertical diagonal cut was made to the ends of the lamella panels so that the curvature would not result in a gap between the lamella panels,” explains Pasi Siikaluoma.

For the construction company Jatke, this project also built on their competence. Pasi Siikaluoma says that since the project, no types of façade project would faze them. He is very pleased both with the project outcome and with Ruukki.

“Ruukki was brilliant in the project, the salespeople were really keen to take the project forward and not just to sell products,” enthuses Pasi Siikaluoma.

“Ruukki’s products turned out to be an interesting alternative to implement the design. Besides which, Ruukki’s assistance and product knowledge were a great help in our choices. They also provided knowledgeable service. The outcome was just what had been agreed,” adds architect Heikki Käppi, who designed the building.

”Lohi shopping center has become a landmark in Lohja and stands out from the other buildings in the center,” sums up Pasi Siikaluoma at Jatke Oy.