Diana housing block

Background: site allocated competition 2015
Type: building and courtyard design
Client: Lapti Ltd, City of Helsinki (courtyard)
Status: completed
Timeline: 2015–2020
Location: Sompasaari, Helsinki, Finland
Scope of project: 14 200 m² housing (247 apartments), 300 m² commercial
Team: Antti Lehto (partner in charge), Emilia Ellilä (project architect), Leena Buller (landscape arch. in charge), Kristina Östman, Anna-Kaisa Aalto, Anni-Mari Anttola, Timo Arjanko, Lassi Luotonen, Timo Paananen, Daniel Reini, Antonino Vitale
Photography: Martin Sommerschield (Kuvio Ltd), Daniel Reini (INARO), Tuomas Uusheimo

The architectonic expression has its origins in the area’s industrial past and a variety of housing typologies.


The site lies in the redeveloped East Harbour area of Helsinki. For decades the cityscape has comprised rough industrial buildings, warehouses and chimney stacks.


The architecture has its roots in the history of the site. Simple volumes, a variation in scale and rough brick work provide an industrial touch.

New typological combinations

Various apartment types coexist in the block to meet the requirements of various lifestyles, thus enriching the townscape and enhancing social diversity.

Tower and loft

The innovative combination of circulation spaces and various floor plan types opens up new prospects for variation in unit size, room height, and views.

”Sea Garden” apartment type

The apartment type extends interior spaces visually outwards. Variation in balcony width offers pleasant furnishable spaces both inside and out. The balconies protect the apartments from overheating. The bathrooms with a sauna have a direct access to the balcony.

”Porch” apartment type

The glazed outdoor corridor leads to the corner apartments and to the lift. Limited in length, it serves only three apartments per floor, which promotes a sense of community within the building.

Integrated Design

Soft volumes and smooth transitions create a contrast with the clear-cut building volumes.

Feasibility and durability

The architectonic expression is based on clarity and simplicity. The contrast of scales in the massing of each building, variation in brick cladding and careful attention to detail bring a sensitivity to the design that counterbalances its rational approach.

Storage of renewable energy

Rooftop solar panels are connected to a battery-charging station. Charging and usage are optimized according to available sunlight and consumption demand. This is the first project in Finland to utilize this concept on a small urban scale.

The Diana block in Sompasaari represents a clever combination of scales and housing typologies.