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SATO built half of Pihlajamäki 60 years ago and continues to develop the district


SATO Corporation
Press release 29 August 2022 at 2:15 pm

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The Pihlajamäki district in Helsinki was one of the first to apply the ‘neighbourhood construction’ approach where the development of a wider area was entrusted to a single company. It was also a first in Finland for industrial construction methods and a completely prefabricated system. Involved in the creation of this district 60 years ago, rental housing expert SATO continues to play a role in its development.

Located in northern Helsinki, Pihlajamäki is a hidden gem among city districts. A blend of bold, stark architecture and a park-like feel, Pihlajamäki is a district where Finland’s oldest glacial potholes and trenches dating to the times of the Russian czars still stand despite way being made for modern skateboard ramps, too. SATO was responsible for the construction of the lion’s share of the buildings in Pihlajamäki, including its landmark high-rises and the part of the shopping centre that is currently a listed building. Today, SATO still has nearly 250 rental homes in the district.

SATO first to implement a completely prefabricated system

Back in the day, Helsingin Asuntokeskuskunta Haka was responsible for construction in the northeastern section of the district and SATO in the southwestern. Construction in Pihlajamäki started in 1960 with the aim of creating more than 2,000 homes in the district by 1964.

Architect Lauri Silvennoinen, the winner of the architectural design competition organised by SATO, had the ambitious goal of standardising the entire construction process and the development of Pihlajamäki therefore pioneered the use of industrial construction methods.

While the first part of the area developed by SATO was implemented with large shuttering moulds used to cast the building frames on-site, the second stage was the first in Finland with a completely prefabricated system where the buildings were assembled from wholly pre-cast elements. According to the Finnish National Heritage Agency, SATO’s prefab approach, its architecture including its scale and composition as well as the streamlined appearance of the buildings and the efficiencies sought all had major impacts on the future of construction in Finland. Pihlajamäki is indeed considered a watershed for the Finnish construction industry and the design of homes in Finland.

“Even today, we favour prefabricated elements in construction and also use the completely prefabricated system. Prefab elements nowadays are much more adaptable and can be differently shaped for different needs,” says Arto Aalto, SATO Vice President for Investments.

The flexible adaptability of unit layouts in the area have also been beneficial in terms of changes made during the buildings’ lifecycle.

“Frame adaptability allows two adjacent studio units to be later combined into one larger home in the context of modernisation, for example,” Aalto explains.

SATO continues to develop Pihlajamäki

As a responsible rental housing provider, SATO carries out modernisation of its rental homes and buildings in keeping with lifecycle principles.

In 2021, SATO launched the modernisation of 64 homes in Pihlajamäki to markedly improve their energy efficiency and living comfort.

“In modernisations, our goal is to achieve an improvement of around 30% in energy efficiency,” Aalto says.

The building on Graniittitie street that is being modernised will also switch over from district heating to geothermal heating. SATO is also invested in the further development of the prefab construction techniques first introduced in the district.

“Modern prefab elements have a longer useful life, the materials used are more advanced and the range of solutions that can be implemented with prefab elements is much wider. Today, SATO requires all of its building frame elements to have a useful life of 100 years,” Aalto says.

More about Pihlajamäki on our website: Pihlajamäki – 60 years at the mercy of prefab elements

For media enquiries, please contact:

SATO Corporation, Arto Aalto, Vice President, Investments
phone +358 40 513 0702,

SATO Corporation is an expert in sustainable rental housing and one of Finland’s largest rental housing providers. SATO owns around 25,000 rental homes in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, Tampere and Turku.

SATO aims to provide an excellent customer experience and a comprehensive range of urban rental housing alternatives with good access to public transport and services. We promote sustainable development and work in open interaction with our stakeholders. SATO invests profitably, sustainably and with a long-term view. We increase the value of our assets through investments, divestments and repairs.

In 2021, SATO Group’s net sales totalled EUR 298.3 million, operating profit EUR 304.5 million and profit before taxes EUR 259.4 million. The value of SATO’s investment properties is around EUR 5 billion.

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