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City Hall lobby

The Helsinki City Hall lobby was rebuilt by hearing the voices of lobby users. Design methods were used to turn the lobby into an open meeting place and a co-creation platform for citizens, communities and City employees.

The transformation of the City Hall lobby was a multi-stage process. The work involved professionals from many fields but, according to the principles of service design, the work centred on the future users of the space ranging from City employees to citizens.

The yearlong lobby project transformed the lobby’s service concept, facilities, interior, digital elements and signs. The project was overseen by City Design Manager Päivi Hietanen.

Future users at the core of the project

The conceptual design of the lobby was launched with the design consultancy Kuudes Helsinki in the spring of 2018. The work included stakeholder interviews, comparative studies and two Concept Lab workshops for employees and residents. Staff members working in the lobby were interviewed about their views and wishes. The preliminary concept was on display in an exhibit, and visitors were invited to submit feedback.

The participatory approach continued at the design stage. Information sessions and workshops were organized for employees to refine the plans further on the basis of everyday needs. The furniture was tested prior to use. The lobby’s interior design is by the design agency Koko3, which integrated ideas from employees into the plans. Architectural design is by Vertas Architects.

The design project created both a new service concept for the lobby and the customer service promise “Welcome to create the Helsinki of the future”.

The new lobby concept honours the past: the 1960s’ modernist architecture of Aarno Ruusuvuori and the building’s preserved architecture co-exist seamlessly with the new concept serving the Helsinki of the future.

The new service concept resulted in many changes to the operations of the staff working in the lobby. Participatory design produced a shared vision for the staff and a sense of ownership to support the change.

A workspace for citizens and a living event venue

The new City Hall lobby concept is owned by the City Executive Office’s Communications unit. The unit also manages the use of the event square, which can be booked by employees and citizens for various events free of charge.

The City Hall lobby has been transformed into a workspace for citizens, in which the city is developed openly and in a transparent manner.

The transformed lobby is a well-functioning space that adapts to a variety of events. The lobby’s large media wall deepens the factual content of events.

The goal of the lobby transformation project was to create a place in which Helsinki’s strategic goal to be the most functional city in the world can be experienced by visitors. The lobby has become an open and dynamic place for events and co-creation, one that welcomes City employees, citizens and other stakeholder groups to build the Helsinki of the future.

Edited from an article by Johanna Lemola
Photos: Laura Oja