Real estate investment company Antilooppi focuses on the development of both properties and the surrounding districts

Reformation is based on the transformation of work and intensive urban development. As a proprietor, Antilooppi hears out the local people and respects the urban environment when developing its properties, premises and sustainable practices.

Pension insurance companies Ilmarinen of Finland and AMF Tjänstepension AB of Sweden founded Antilooppi in 2014 to develop the properties in the city districts that are in a state of change. Loyal to its strategy, Antilooppi is committed to developing entire urban areas; the city residents and urban-cultural development hold a solid position in the core of its operations in addition to the clients and those working in the offices it offers. Antilooppi is prominently present in the Sörnäinen, Hakaniemi, Vallila, Ruoholahti and Punavuori districts of Helsinki as well as in Leppävaara in Espoo. Sustainability and engagement in city life are key in Antilooppi’s value system, and the company only invests in existing buildings.

Antilooppi continuously surveys, identifies and interprets its clients’ needs and places human beings in the centre of its strategy to engage in a dialogue and understand the needs of both companies and individuals while the world of work is reforming. 

“Good things are not handed down from the top but understood based on what happens on the ground,” says Antilooppi’s Director of Customer Experience & Concept Johanna Sarekoski.

District identity as a basis for planning – the Always Ready concept revives the areas developing around the offices

The Always Ready concept offices by Antilooppi are move-in ready, unique premises in attractive locations, each with their own identity and versatile offering. At the moment, there are 14 Always Ready locations and more to come. “We want to develop places for good employment were people feel genuinely good at work to support the employee experience,” Sarekoski says. The Always Ready concept is Antilooppi’s strike against the unsustainable model of tenant improvements (TI) carried out each time a new tenant moves in.

The design of the concept offices begins at the history and core idea of the property. “We must understand the DNA of the district and decide which items to bring into the development from its roots. The design drivers are based in the architecture and status of the property. We are to embrace its history and authenticity,” says Sarekoski. 

Authenticity is embraced, for example, by discovering the original paint tones and appreciating the original details of the building. There is a will to maintain the developed buildings to the next generations. “Rooted in the history and DNA of the building, the premises will better stand the test of time and occupancy. Trends can be mixed in by other elements.”

The interiors are designed to match the specific characters of each location, and the work of the designers is highly appreciated. There is plenty of room for creativity despite the concept in the background. Sarekoski says it is essential to find the right people to partner with; the ones that understand the core of the concept. Interior designers also select the furniture to make the place inviting and easy to access. The client can buy the furniture selection, pick out the items they like, or bring along their own furniture. The aim is to build a partner network around the Always Ready concept to make it easier for companies to settle in.

Merikortteli is a vibrant homestead for offices in the coastal Punavuori district

Antilooppi has developed the operations of the Merikortteli block to serve as the main venue of Helsinki Design Week with a keen ear for the needs of the office tenants and residents in the district. Completed in 1920, the six-storey block was the first modern industrial complex in Finland. Lately it has been housing the studios of creative professionals and providing services that naturally align with the district’s identity, including cinema Riviera, Kaffa Roastery and restaurant, and bakery Levain on the street level. Some of the premises of this historical block are used as offices, and the block also features a POOL flex-space and the Always Ready concept offices by Antilooppi. The concept office here is called Studio Merikortteli. The move-in ready space is like a canvas on which a company can paint their business, people and activities.

It is important for Antilooppi to support the understanding and design of the unique premises, and they hence partner with architects Futudesign and interior architects Risto Wikberg and Sara Syvähuoko, who are well acquainted with the district. Futudesign has created the premises of advertising agency N2 and restaurant and bakery Levain, which adds to the coherence of the block and improves the designers’ understanding of the character of the building.

Wikberg and Syvähuoko, too, have given plenty of thought to the identity of the Punavuori district during their work. “We think a good experience is created when stepping into the room you feel it is not separate from its surroundings but is like a natural continuum to them.” 

We think a good experience is created when stepping into the room you feel it is not separate from its surroundings but is like a natural continuum to them.

Risto Wikberg and Sara Syvähuoko, Futudesign.

The materiality of the Merikortteli industrial complex – its rough brick facade – has steered the duo in design. Coatings and surfaces repeat genuine materials that patinate over time, as do the upholstery fabrics, including wool and other organic materials. 

“Potential tenants are many here, so the idea was to design a place that suits various types of professionals. However, the original architecture played a major role, and even though we design according to a replicable concept, we wanted to maintain the essence of the place. Premises turn out right naturally when designed taking into account the history and character of the building.”

Work in transformation – a challenge and an inspiration

The prerequisites of employment and works sites are going through the motions. Employers must meet the increasing need of telecommuting, and offices must be made more attractive to the employees. Both Antilooppi and Futudesign – each from their own corner – aim at this type of attractive premises.

The Always Ready offices provide an opportunity for various multiform ways of working: in rooms for social situations and group work side by side with those quiet corners and retreat units. These rooms are modular so that tenants can modify them to meet their needs. Risto Wikberg and Sara Syvähuoko say that in office design, it is important to consider the common areas as well as homeliness: “Throughout the history of offices people have placed plush toys, framed photographs or personal trophies on their desks. This means people need their homely references despite changing their work station.”

There is a sense of community in the design of not only the work space but the entire city district. Merikortteli is a recognized success story in terms of its various operators supporting each other and revitalizing the block together with the residents of the district. “It is important to find the right combo of people and businesses that complete each other. This is why we have fastidiously contemplated on what kind of companies will add to the service offering and success of Merikortteli,” Johanna Sarekoski explains.

Sustainable concepts at every turn

Sustainability is vividly present in the DNA of Antilooppi and all the aspects of its operations. This naturally translates into the development of existing buildings instead of new construction, the pursuit of recycling, and the selection of locations that are easy to reach. This year Merikortteli received the BREEAM In-Use environmental certificate to indicate the property’s level of sustainability. The block is completely carbon neutral in terms of energy consumption. 

Antilooppi aims at launching at least six new solar-power stations in 2023 and is in the process of surveying the possibilities to place one in Merikortteli.

The ecological materials chosen by Futudesign’s Wikberg and Syvähuoko to base their design on for quite some time represent another aspect of sustainability. The fact that most of the furniture and textiles selected are designed and made in Finland predicts longevity. Wikberg and Syvähuoko bring to Merikortteli the Tecdoma tables made of recycled Finnish CLT wood panel waste, the Wood Mind coffee tables made in a small workshop in Billnäs, and the upholstery fabrics designed by Johanna Gullichsen. VM Carpet’s wool carpeting is also made in Finland as are the seats by Lepo Product and Artek.

Cooperative and sustainable urban development

“Urban development should engage more dialogue,” Sarekoski says, hoping that the voices of the city’s residents and districts would be heard more keenly than ever before. 

“The right decisions will improve the lives of the people working on each floor as well as increase the attractiveness of the entire city. In the future, we must have a yet better understanding of human beings and their behaviour.”

Hearing out the people is a theme that keeps coming up in Wikberg and Syvähuoko’s commentary. “Designers need to return to the premises to find out what people like to do there. Merikortteli and Punavuori have succeeded well, and their services have brought more companies to the area. There could be even more user-driven premises available,” the interior architects say. 

Sustainability and the people-first approach are megatrends in urban development.

The partnership of Helsinki Design Week and Antilooppi is a good example of life pertaining to the city. “We want to be enablers of good employment and city development. We are happy that the most unique premises in the city will be taken over to cradle design this year,” Sarekoski says.

Helsinki Design Week will take place in the Merikortteli block from 13 to 17 September 2023. The tickets to the main exhibition are now on sale.