The New Children’s Hospital was officially handed over to HUS, the hospital district of Helsinki and Uusimaa, in mid-May. The best possible hospital for small patients was built from scratch.

The construction of the New Children’s Hospital was an extraordinary project in many ways. There was a broad consensus around the necessity and construction of the hospital, to the extent that a fundraiser was arranged to expedite the project, collecting almost EUR 40 million of the total budget of EUR 170 million.

There has also been a broad consensus that since a hospital is being built, it should be the world’s best hospital for children. This objective was taken into consideration in every detail, and there have been no compromises on quality at any stage. This was also reflected in the excellent team spirit on the project.

Ulla Sipola, Rock Structure Designer, Sitowise

- There was a superb spirit of working together on this project. Communication went smoothly and problems have been addressed immediately, says Sitowise’s Ulla Sipola, Senior Designer, M.Sc. (Civ.Eng.), who was responsible for designing the rock structures for the New Children’s Hospital.

- Building a new hospital in the middle of the dense urban fabric, surrounded by a functioning hospital area, could be a logistical nightmare. Sitowise’s Transport Planning Group Manager, Jenni Karjalainen, M.Sc. (Eng.), who was responsible for the project’s traffic arrangements, admits that there were numerous challenges, but everything ultimately went smoothly thanks to effective collaboration between the designers from different disciplines.

Matias Remes from Helimaki Acoustics, part of Sitowise, worked as the Project Manager for acoustic design at the New Children’s Hospital. He also says that the collaboration between the different parties on the project went extraordinarily well. For this reason, the hospital for little patients was also a memorable experience for the designers.

Planning and blasting at the same time

For the rock structure designer, the design of the New Children’s Hospital was a particularly interesting job – partly due to the tight schedule. As the aim was to get the hospital completed and in use as quickly as possible, planning and blasting took place at the same time. And that is not all: the building’s foundations were cast at the same time as blasting took place in a building pit elsewhere.

The blasting contract was divided into four segments. - The first blasting work to begin was in part A. By the time part D was being blasted, the building was already beginning to take shape in part A, Ulla Sipola says. Jokioisten Maanrakennus Oy was responsible for the demanding blasting contract.

Blasting a pit into an existing, densely built-up area full of buildings in use is never easy. On top of the fact that construction work was underway at the same time, the difficulty level was increased further by the knowledge that operating theatres and sensitive X-ray and MRI machines were in use in the neighbouring buildings.

Every effort needed to be made to avoid vibrations. Fortunately, Sitowise has a wealth of experience in designing underground spaces in the Meilahti hospital area. Most of the rock wall in the building pit was drilled out. This substantially reduced the rate of vibrations caused by excavation work reaching the vibration-sensitive structures and equipment in the hospital area. The blasting work was carefully reconciled with the concrete work, and the building site also made use of portable vibration meters. 

Action 24/7

Although Jenni Karjalainen has experience working on traffic arrangements for several challenging projects, she does not expect anything to be more challenging than the New Children’s Hospital any time soon. A functioning hospital area is naturally a unique operating environment – interesting and challenging. Emergency routes must function in perpetually changing conditions. Ambulances come and go. The number of people with restricted mobility in the area is above average. Everything operates 24/7. 
-There is no room for error, Jenni Karjalainen points out.

Planning of the traffic arrangements for the New Children’s Hospital began in 2014 with the traffic arrangements related to the actual buildings. There is a parking facility with space for 100 customer cars under the building. The traffic arrangements on Stenbäckinkatu and the final internal traffic on the plot were also planned at this stage. Jenni Karjalainen says that planning of the final traffic arrangements, including connections and routes with sufficient space, was challenging. - The road connection to the hospital area goes through the New Children’s Hospital. For example, an opening of sufficient height and width was required for the magnet reel.

When construction began on the plot, planning also began on the traffic arrangements for the construction period, along with work such as coordinating construction of the district cooling and moving the cables connected to the hospital.

Ensuring that logistics can operate smoothly in the middle of a hospital operating on a cramped site is not a simple task and compromises were required. - The service yard for the hospital kitchen was right in the middle of the construction site. Traffic was only allowed in one direction on Stenbäckinkatu during construction to ensure that there was space to unload deliveries on the site. Pedestrians were only allowed to use one side of the street, Jenni Karjalainen says.

The routes changed as construction proceeded, and communicating the changes in sufficient time and in several ways was of paramount importance.

All changes were communicated on the City of Helsinki’s website and the HUS website, as well as the on-site information board. Suppliers were given printed information. Patients were sent up-to-date maps along with their invitations to attend appointments.

Acoustically excellent

According to Matias Remes, the New Children’s Hospital was very satisfying to design because acoustics were taken into consideration everywhere. “The assignment was broad in scope: all of the areas were analysed, ranging from the easiest areas in acoustic terms – such as offices – all the way to the most demanding specialist areas.”

As a site, the New Children’s Hospital has been exceptionally diverse for the acoustic designers, as the largest building contains rooms for every kind of purpose, from basic wards to specialist areas. Very few hospitals have specialist areas such as an adaptable music room for acoustic and amplified music or a chapel, which is also suitable for acoustic music performances.

- There were very ambitious targets for the acoustic conditions in all of the rooms, and most of these were met as the project progressed, Matias Remes emphasises.

Noise insulation for the various rooms was the focus of much attention when the acoustic conditions were designed, and the individual needs of each area were considered. Managing the noise generated by the building services was a major headache, as the modern hospital building contains a very large range of different technologies. In a hospital located in the middle of the city, managing noise and vibrations plays an essential role.

New Children’s Hospital

  • Developer: Kiinteistö Oy Uusi Lastensairaala
  • Project management contractor: SRV Construction Ltd
  • Developer consultant Haahtela-rakennuttaminen Oy
  • Architectural and principal design: SARC
  • Rock engineering design and traffic planning: Sitowise Oy
  • Geotechnical design: Ramboll Finland Ltd
  • Acoustic design: Helimaki Acoustics (part of Sitowise Group)