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30.11.2017 | News

Energy-efficient urban homes desingned for the first SunZeb city block

The design of the versatile residential SunZeb city block is progressing. The block will be built in Kalasatama, Helsinki. The housing quality and energy efficiency of the residences built in the area will be in line with future requirements. The SunZeb city block is the pilot project of the EU’s MySMARTLife project, in which future urban smart solutions are tested in Helsinki.

Suited to an urban city environment, the concept utilises solar energy as efficiently as possible. It is based on the SunZeb model developed by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland together with Helen Ltd. In the model, buildings are used as renewable energy sources. The excess heating load caused to buildings by the sun, and considered problematic in the current way of building, is turned into an opportunity.

As the design of the city block progresses, the concept has been tested by modelling the effects of the different solution options on energy requirements, conditions and costs. The review takes into account several variables, such as living comfort, energy efficiency and life-cycle thinking.

Verstas method to help with design

Asuntosäätiö, Fira, Kojamo and Helen Ltd – the actors in this project – took an open-minded approach to designing the world’s first SunZeb block. The designs have been worked out utilising Fira’s Verstas workshop model where the customer, the users of the space, the designers and the implementers get together to combine their competencies and to design a future project.

“Fira’s Verstas workshop method has provided us with exactly the right way of designing a new energy-efficient building, which the SunZeb concept represents. During the design process, the workshops have given us the opportunity to discuss emerging challenges straight off the bat from many points of view. It’s been a pleasure to witness the design team’s seamless collaboration to transform the principles of the concept into practical design choices. Factors important to residents, such as light high-quality indoor conditions are being implemented without compromising energy efficiency,” says the leader of the research team Jari Shemeikka from VTT.

Sunny modern homes with comfortable indoor conditions

The architectural solutions used in the block are modern and light. The SunZeb concept enables large window surfaces and comfortable indoor conditions during all seasons. In summer, excess solar energy and other waste energies are harnessed and stored. The excess heat is then utilised by Helsinki’s district heating system. In winter, radiation from the low-hanging sun heats spaces and creates a lot of natural light for the apartments, even in the greyest days of the year.

“The location of the city block is exceptional – we are by the sea close to the city centre. Sompasaari will be turned into a dense urban area, which creates a stunning contrast to the openness of the sea. The tower section in particular will offer interesting urban vistas over the city centre and Kalasatama and, on the other hand, over the woody areas of Mustikkamaa and Korkeasaari in the east,” explains Jaakob Solla, an architect at Konkret Oy.

Construction to start in late 2018

Asuntosäätiö, Fira and the Kojamo Group will each build their own property in the same city block. The construction of the block will kick off in 2018. The first phase will see the construction of Asuntosäätiö’s Hitas site and Kojamo’s Lumo rental apartments. The sites of Fira and Asuntosäätiö will be added during the second phase.

“The SunZeb concept fits perfectly with Asuntosäätiö’s operating model. We are seeking contemporary housing solutions for rental, right-of-residence and owner-occupied residences, and the smart energy solutions of the future fit the bill. After the Hitas production in the first phase, we will build right-of-residence residences, which are in high demand in Helsinki,” says Esa Kankainen, CEO, Asuntosäätiö.

“Right from the start of the project, the SunZeb city block has been an important part of our environmentally friendly urban housing project. Upon completion, the Lumo homes will offer brand new housing quality in line with our strategy of creating better urban housing,” says Kim Jolkkonen, Real Estate Development Director, Kojamo.

Smart energy solutions of the future are currently tested in Kalasatama. A sustainable low-emission energy system including services will be created by combining cutting-edge energy, information and communications technologies. By 2040, the area will house 25,000 residents and provide 10,000 jobs.

The MySMARTLife project has received funding from the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme in accordance with financing agreement No 731297.

Kojamo is the frontrunner in rental housing and real estate investments. It has undergone major renewals in recent years. The renewed Kojamo is able to provide better urban housing in a rapidly changing world. Kojamo is transforming Finnish society together with its customers, other companies and operators, and cities.