Tammisto Substation: Function Meets Design in Vantaa

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Tammisto Electricity Substation
Location: Vantaa, Finland

Client: Fingrid Oyj
Client’s project manager: Jarmo Henttinen
Lead Architect: Tuomas Kivinen
Design team: Anna Blomqvist, Maria Karjalainen

Completion: 2023
Total floor area: 1705 sqm
Construction costs: 6,1M Euro
Photography: Max Plunger, Tuomas Kivinen

Architecture MasterPrize 2023: Winner
ICONIC Awards 2023: Innovative Architecture, Winner

Modernization Meets Tradition

For decades, the Tammisto site has been a cornerstone of the Helsinki metropolitan area’s power grid. However, aging infrastructure necessitated an upgrade. The Finnish main grid operator, Fingrid Oyj, spearheaded the construction of a new building to house a 110 kV Gas-Insulated Switchgear (GIS) system, replacing the outdated air-insulated switchyard. This modernization effort aimed to enhance reliability, capacity, and safety.

The architectural goal was clear: to create a unified look that bridges the gap between the old and new structures. The new substation building features facades of water-struck bricks in various warm tones, harmonizing with the historic 1947 substation designed by Aarne Ervi. This blend of old and new not only preserves the site’s historical value but also aligns with Vantaa City’s town planning regulations.

Thoughtful Design and Layout

One of the standout features of the new substation building is its thoughtful layout. Divided lengthwise into three sections, the building’s design draws inspiration from the two-part composition of the old substation. Triangular cuts in the building’s mass define these sections, with access points at either end and the main process equipment housed in the central section.

Natural light plays a significant role in the design. The south and north sections feature double-skin walls of lattice masonry offset by glass curtain walls, allowing natural light to filter through while maintaining security. Even the windowless central section benefits from indirect natural light via the spaces at either end. This careful attention to natural lighting not only reduces the building’s energy consumption but also creates a more pleasant working environment.

Aesthetic and Functional Materials

The new building’s facades utilize water-struck bricks in four distinct masonry patterns, requiring 13 different types of custom bricks to achieve the desired look. The detailed 3D modeling of these facades was crucial for producing precise drawings, which the brick supplier used to create the necessary molds.

In addition to the brickwork, the project also focused on updating two 1980s concrete transformer bunkers. These bunkers were treated with Umbra colour patination, resulting in a reddish-brown, rusty finish that complements the warm tones of the brick facades and the earthy hues of Cor-Ten steel used elsewhere on the site. This cohesive use of materials gives the substation a unified and aesthetically pleasing appearance.

Enhancing the Surrounding Landscape

The Tammisto Electricity Substation is strategically located near major transportation routes, commercial areas, residential neighborhoods, and the Helsinki airport. The site is enclosed with a fence and controlled gate to ensure security, but the landscaping within this perimeter is designed to enhance the local environment. Tall trees and preserved forest patches provide a green buffer, contributing to the site’s visual appeal and ecological value.

During construction, extensive efforts were made to minimize disruptions to ongoing substation operations and the surrounding grid. The project was carefully phased to ensure a smooth transition from the old system to the new one, and the site now stands ready for future expansions to meet the growing electricity demands of the region.


The Tammisto Electricity Substation project is a testament to how industrial infrastructure can be both functional and beautiful. By respecting the historical context, integrating modern technology, and using thoughtful design and materials, Kivinen Rusanen Architects have created a site that not only serves a critical function but also enhances the aesthetic and cultural fabric of Vantaa. This project exemplifies the potential for sustainable urban development that meets both practical and artistic goals.

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