When Kesko, Finland’s largest retail and wholesale chain, needed a new head office, the seed was sown for K-Kampus − a timeless, Scandinavian building designed to last for the next 100 years. While the emphasis was the wellbeing of staff, an out-of-the-ordinary experience for visitors also took shape.

The interior of K-Kampus is indeed anything but ordinary. The visitor experience is the central focus in this 37,000 m² head office in Helsinki. The entrance makes a striking impression while being warm and welcoming. The interior is white and fresh, with elements of oak and a softer colour temperature contributing to a warm Scandinavian feel.

“As soon as they enter the lobby, staff and visitors are invited into Kesko’s world. Coming here is intended to be inspiring,” says Samuli Hintikka, interior architect at dSign Vertti Kivi & Co, which was responsible for parts of the design of the entrance floor of K-Kampus.

All-in-one solutions

All communal areas on the entrance floor are multifunctional and present a variety of possibilities for meetings and development for Kesko’s employees. In addition to a service lounge, inspired by Finnish forests, there is a K-Café and a restaurant where staff can eat, work or hold informal meetings. Kesko’s three business areas – the grocery trade, the building and technical trade and the car trade – are also showcased for visitors on the entrance floor. Kesko’s grocery trade activities are on show, for example, in the form of an exclusive demo kitchen that can also be used for events and functions.

An atrium forms the focal point of the building. Staff can sit and work with the benefit of natural daylight on a tiered staircase-cum-seating-area that extends from the entrance up towards the private working areas.

“There’s always a special feeling coming back to a project that has been taken into use. Seeing all the areas and spaces come to life. The feeling I get when I see the green living wall and the tiered staircase on the entrance floor is that this is a workplace that focuses on the comfort and wellbeing of its staff,” says Riikka-Maria Slotte, who served as the supervising sales representative and project manager from Input interior.

Unique range of options

A large number of the staff were involved over the three years it took to complete the project to help ensure that both the new working methods and the functionality of the premises would be satisfactory.

K-Kampus will see 1,800 employees from eight different locations come together in one building. The working culture has undergone a major change and the new office has been designed to suit a task-oriented working method. On each floor, employees can choose between three different zones, from quiet settings to open-plan co-working areas.

“In addition to the open working areas, there are 100 meeting rooms for internal and external meetings and a further 100 retreat rooms suitable for meetings with small numbers of participants or as a place to chat without being disturbed. Each floor also has a café, with a design featuring a selection of Kesko’s brands. The cafés are an ideal venue for both breaks and informal meetings,” says Hanna Laavainen, who is responsible for Kesko’s workplace services and development of the work environment.

Elina Niemi and Paula Salonen, interior architects at JKMM Architects, who designed both the building and the interior, feel that the focus of the design process has been to create a welcoming and pleasant workplace. Over 200 employees have been involved in the process in the form of discussions and workshops.

“Comfort, functionality and a soft and cosy feel are factors that guided us in our choice of materials. Plants have also played a significant role in the design process, as has lighting. The general lighting has been combined with pleasant background lighting and spotlighting to create the right atmosphere.

Timeless not trendy

As a result of Kesko’s desire for timeless design that will last for the next 100 years, current trends have been rejected in favour of natural material choices and muted shades. Scandinavian design with elements of wood provides a stylish sense of coherence between the workplaces and the public zones at K-Kampus.

“The working areas on each floor have been given different colour schemes, contributing to a harmonious and tranquil setting, and the materials used are top quality. In normal circumstances, the private areas of an office tend to be less well-appointed than the public zones, but that’s not the case here. The workplaces have been given the attention they deserve,” says Elina Niemi.

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