A tour of the Parliament House

The Finnish Parliament House was completed in the 1930s. The first renovation of the building was completed just in time for the opening of the autumn term of the Finnish Parliament in 2017. The national monument has a fresh and vibrant new look, more modern facilities and new technical building systems.

The entire main building of the Parliament House was renovated. The structures that are visible and invisible to the public were replaced, repaired or restored on all six floors from the cellar to the roof, including surfaces, fixtures and artwork.

The objective was to perform repairs and update the building technology as well as to restore the original appearance of the building as accurately as possible.

The project began in the spring of 2015 and was completed just in time for the Finnish Parliament to begin its autumn term in the Parliament House on 5 September 2017. The project was completed within the framework of the budget. According to the Parliament Building’s Property Manager Ilona Nokela, this is partly due to the fact that plenty of time was reserved for planning the renovation project. We had an interval of over six months between completing the plans and beginning the renovation work, which allowed us to prepare exact phases and schedules in advance.

The right experts in the right place

“Cooperation with Lemminkäinen has gone swimmingly,” says the Parliament Building’s Construction Manager Hannu Peltonen. “Everyone cooperated and was genuinely excited, and the results are meticulously professional.”

According to Peltonen and Nokela, the procurement process with Lemminkäinen, for example finding and selecting subcontractors, went smoothly. Nokela is particularly delighted that they found young professionals, for example students, to do some of the restoration work.

The properties of the old building introduced some challenges over the course of extensive renovation project: surprising elements, such as hazardous substances found during demolition, required additional work. However, everyone had prepared for surprises. Unexpected discoveries did not impact the overall project schedule because several work phases were being performed in different parts of the building simultaneously.  

Repairs from the cellar to the roof

According to Peltonen, the major challenges during the renovation project included updating the technical building systems, replacing the roof and excavating a new pipe tunnel in an area sensitive to vibration. 

The entire technical building systems, such as the heating and ventilation systems, were replaced and integrated into the old structures. A pipe tunnel containing the HVAC and power cables now runs in the cellar. The building was fitted with new, energy-conserving heat recovery and cooling systems.

The roof was demolished, the box slab arches in the intermediate floor were disinfected and fireproofed and the new roof was insulated. The intermediate floor was expanded to accommodate routing for technical building systems and leave more room for performing maintenance procedures.

The tunnel allowed us to add a freight elevator and centralised facilities for the building’s internal services, such as IT services, postal services and media work. The service centre improved the level of comfort and work efficiency in the building: with all the service available in a centralised location, everyone can access them easily from any part of the building.

Modern work facilities with respect to old elements

Safety has been taken into account in many ways. The security systems were replaced and all the entrances now have a safety gate. The main lobby has been restored to its original appearance, which was one of the original motives of the project. The original parts of the building as well as the surfaces repaired in the 1970s are protected. However, the colours had faded in the plenary hall, for example.

The project involved renovating or replacing all of the approximately 1,000 windows and doors of the building.

The fixed desks of the plenary hall were renovated on location using tents, which protected the renovation targets and prevented dust and debris from spreading to the environment. The approximately 3,000 fixtures of the building were inspected and repaired according to need. All painted and cloth surfaces were inspected, repaired or replaced: worn carpets and furnishing fabrics, for example, were replaced with new ones produced on the basis of the old models. 

Managing the working conditions was challenging: the paintings on the walls and ceilings as well as reliefs, columns and other fixed artwork had to be protected from heat and humidity variation during two entire winters. The priceless artwork was protected from damage using a temporary heating system.

In addition to a national monument, the Parliament Building is a workplace. This was taken into account by introducing a system for regulating indoor ventilation and temperature and, for example, improving acoustics and lighting. The original lighting fixtures were repaired and lighting was increased. Energy consumption was enhanced by, for example, converting all the lighting fixtures to LED. While the offices are not adaptable, some of the shared facilities can be converted into work and conference facilities in different sizes. 

Cleaner and safer on the outside, too

The renovation project included plastering the outer walls of the four courtyards as well as renovating the main stairs. The old granite stairs were removed, the stone was sawn and the foundation of the stairway was replaced. The stairs were then reassembled in straight rows. The stairway had previously cracked and expanded forward by approximately one metre. There is also a storage space under the stairway.

The new tunnel under the building allowed us to transfer the House´s whole logistics underground. With no more transportation vehicles in the courtyards and along the streets, the area is safer and more comfortable.

The primary project was completed in mid-August. We will continue the restoration of the temporary facilities - which were needed during renovation - of the building in the autumn of 2017. The park area on Eduskuntakatu Street will be completed by the end of June 2018.

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