Kaarlenkatu housing

Background: direct commission
Type: building design
Client: Rakennusliike Lapti Oy
Status: under construction
Year: 2020 – 2022
Location: Kallio, Helsinki, Finland
Size: 2,850 m² housing, 150 m² commercial
Team: Antti Lehto (principal designer), Emilia Ellilä (leading architect), Daniel Reini, Antti Haataja, Timo Paananen

The architecture draws on the dignity and warmth of the old residential buildings of Kallio.


The new apartment building on Kaarlenkatu is located right in the heart of Helsinki, in the Kallio district. The new building is located in a diverse urban environment that has undergone many changes over time.
Photo: Kari Hakli, Helsinki City Museum 1987

Urban coherence

Housing stock in the Kallio district of Helsinki consists mainly of early 20th century stone-built high-rise developments with rendered front elevations featuring vertical elements. The facades of the new build have been designed to visually complement existing architecture on Castreninkatu and Kaarlenkatu.

The rear elevations reflect a less prescribed approach, typical of other residential buildings in this neighbourhood. The vertical elements take their cue from surrounding architecture, while the roof lines are characterised by greater sense of freedom and diversity.

Carefully proportioned elevations

The facade detailing serves as a fire break in line with local building regulations, allowing for the addition of larger, openable windows. The monolithic, lightly sanded pre-cast concrete used on the ground floor is a contemporary take on the distinctive natural stone walls that characterise this area.

Urban housing design

The housing plans have been carefully thought out and the building will host a diverse selection of apartments, including large family homes.

The living room and kitchen area are free of bearing structures and may be opened into outdoor space through sliding glass walls. In the unique attic apartments, the two-storey living areas create a special atmosphere.

Top floor sauna and common room

Conservatory and balcony complement the sauna department. The future residents may use a digital reservation system to reserve the spaces.

Kaarlenkatu infill housing brings a hint of freshness to an existing urban setting, without stealing the show.