Sompasaari Setlementtiasunnot

Background: private commission
Type: building design
Client: Setlementtiasunnot Oy
Status: completed 2020
Timeline: 2016–2020
Location: Sompasaari, Helsinki
Scope of project: 3200 m² housing, 130 m² commercial
Team: Vesa Humalisto (partner in charge), Hanna Mattila (project architect), Timo Arjanko (project architect during construction), Leena Buller / Anni-Mari Anttola  (landscape architect), Nikolas Davies, Lassi Luotonen, Timo Paananen, Leena Kemell, Daniel Reini
Photography: Daniel Reini and Osmo Puuperä

Simple but high-quality brick buildings offer communal rental and special housing.


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

Living quality through community

The six-storey ARA-funded apartment building in the Venus block of Sompasaari was built by Setlementtiasunnot Oy. There are 65 rental apartments of which 16 are designed for people with special needs.

A Community Coordinator facilitates establishing a community among the residents and encourages and inspires residents to participate and bring their own strengths into the community.

The communal spaces open onto both the street and the courtyard, and are connected by a shared kitchen and a two-storey high auditorium staircase, which is the core of joint activities.

The outside corridor and the glazed common balcony along it protect the apartments from overheating. The shared balcony is a gathering place for the residents of the smaller homes and enables small scale urban farming.

Urban simplicity

The liveliness of the façade of the block is emphasized by dividing the building into smaller-scale masses. The brick reliefs highlight the entrances and windows of the building.

Diverse rental housing

Most of the dwellings are small in size, but there is variability in dwelling types. Loft homes with a greater room height and communal homes bring versatility to communal living.

Versatile common areas offer all residents the opportunity to enjoy stunning sea and city views.