Surroundings of the new Kampusareena building at Tampere University of Technology. Photo: University Properties of Finland.

Surroundings of the new Kampusareena building at Tampere University of Technology. Photo: University Properties of Finland.

5 Oct 2015

Kampusareena: Grass roof campus to nourish high-tech dexterity

The first thing people notice outside the new Kampusareena building at Tampere University of Technology is the students. They are everywhere, sprawling in the grass and hurrying past to get to their lectures, and they are speaking a variety of languages.

Then people will notice the vast green mat that seems to climb into the sky. “That’s our green roof”, explains Anssi Koski, CFO of University Properties of Finland. He gestures towards the black plates attached to the windows, “and those are the solar panels”.

In the futuristic building’s cosy lobby, a signboard lists the tenants occupying different floors, and this reveals the basic truth: several dozen high-tech companies have already rushed to locate their offices here, among the brightest young minds. So it’s easy to understand that this is not your typical Finnish university campus.

Kampusareena is located in the very heart of Hervanta, a district of Tampere, Finland’s third largest city and the largest inland urban centre in the Nordic countries. The new building officially opened its doors in the first week of September 2015. But instead of welcoming just the technical students under its green roofs, the multipurpose building was designed to bring together academia, research and business.

“We wanted to build a dedicated place in a university environment that would naturally promote interaction between students and companies. Kampusareena is our flagship building, and one that we would love other universities in Finland to come and benchmark. We strongly believe that this is the way of the future for promoting intellectual competitiveness”, says Anssi Koski. His employer, University Properties of Finland, produces, maintains and develops premises to meet the needs of universities and their partners.

Creative knowledge environment

Inside the nine-storey building are a wide range of spaces that can be used for different purposes. Long gone are the typical school premises with empty, echoing corridors and dusty classrooms. For instance, in the middle of the canteen area is a small egg-shaped room, a recruiting office where an ICT company specialising in the space industry has set up a pop-up CV office to attract new talent. At certain times, students can show up with their resumes and describe their strongest potential. At other times, the property serves as the company’s remote office for distance working.

“This is a school after all, so we were aiming to create the most inspiring studying environment, but we also wanted it to be a creative knowledge environment that enables people to meet and stimulates new ideas, kind of a living room”, Koski explains.

So far, several companies seem to have quickly discovered this possibility to utilise fresh ideas with innovative technology, including Finland’s famous Nokia. Tampere University of Technology is known for its signal technology, which has already resulted in commercial laser products.

“For a company which yearns to gain the latest knowledge in a lively international network, Kampusareena is definitely an option to consider. Logistically, we are also easy to reach, and in the years to come it will be even easier if the planned high-speed railway gets built”, Koski explains.

Sustainable construction solutions

The green mat and the solar panels are not just additionality and branding for University Properties of Finland – they are a clear strategic statement for the company.

“From the very beginning, right from the first plans for this building, we had a strong vision of making Kampusareena top-notch when it comes to environmental aspects. Our strategy aims for sustainable solutions when constructing new buildings or refurbishing old ones”, says Koski.

“University as an environment already has certain expectations of sustainable solutions, as it is often considered a hub for forward-thinking individuals. But we have also noticed that the financiers, such as NIB, pay a lot of attention to sustainability aspects. For us, it was very positive to see that the monetary value of environmental solutions comes not just in the form of energy efficiency, but also in the form of a long-term loan”, Koski says.

Kampusareena’s solar panels are estimated to produce 55 MWh of electricity a year, which is enough electricity to run a substantial part of the building’s ventilation system. Solar panels also act as shields on the windows, preventing heat from penetrating them, and thus reducing the energy needed for cooling the premises.

The green mat has proven to have many positive environmental aspects, from binding CO2 to reducing the amount of dust. Inevitably, one of the clearest improvements is that it makes the environment more enjoyable, as previously the area was a car park.

“In my opinion, environmental solutions should be seen as investments in the future. They often lead to energy savings and direct us more towards effective usage of the available space. Every square metre of wasted space is a waste of space”, Koski says.

Kampusareena building has applied for a BREEAM rating of “Very Good”. University Properties of Finland received a loan from NIB in January 2014 to construct new campus premises and expand old ones in Finland.

 

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