By: Liv Johannesson

18 November last year the new stations on the extended Helsinki Metro line opened. Länsimetro (West Metro) includes eight new metro stations with lighting from Tampere based Valoa Design.

‘We wanted to rethink the meaning of general lighting, and integrate it to the architecture. This meant moving from “lamp/luminaire” based thinking towards the space and human needs.’
Rather than focusing on lux levels on the floor, emphasis was given to the perception of brightness.
‘Key idea was to give light for the line of sight, and at the same time keep the visual look very sophisticated, simple and timeless.’
This was achieved through backlighting transparent walls and integrating the general lighting in to the architecture. The designers also worked out different themes for the stations together with the architects. With key words such as Snow Drift, Water, Red Soil and Foliage, a lighting concept was created for each station. The themes reflected the location of the stations, such as Koivusaari which is located on an island where the designers chose water as the key inspiration.

Extending the Metro in Helsinki is being done in two phases of which these eight stations is the first. Five more stations will open with the completion of phase two. Valoa Design won the public bidding competition for the project, which started in 2011, and proceeded with writing the guideline that has aided everyone who was part of the project, specifying lux level requirements as well as installation and technical requirements for the luminaires. The team researched metro stations in other countries and visited the existing stations within the Metro system.

‘Almost every luminaire is hidden away or integrated in a structure, so you don’t see the fixture in itself.’
Because of this, luminaires were chosen according to function, with emphasis of product families that had a wide variety of optics and optical accessories. The concept differentiated between general, accent and special lighting.
‘One of the hardest parts was the evolution of LED luminaires. The planning and execution of Länsimetro design process hit the time period when LED luminaires were developing very rapidly.’
When the project started the LED technology was not stable enough. The final technical plans had to be delayed until better LED products could be specified.

Besides some of the stations that have art work on the platforms, the decorative and dynamic lighting is different to separate the stations as well as keep with the individualised concepts. The design focuses on the needs of the end users and takes into account the architecture as well as a holistic view of the space.
‘The light levels for general lighting has been programmed to change according to
day, evening/morning and night. In the mornings the light level is higher than at night, because during daylight, levels outside are high and the contrast will be smaller for the user as they step inside the stations or out from the stations.’

Valoa Design has had positive feedback regarding their design from other companies, the users and from other countries.
‘We are very satisfied for being able to rethink traditional solutions and the trends considering modern lighting design, especially the integrated lighting.
There, we got the other designers and architects on our side, even though it meant a more difficult process.’

Valoa Design Team:
Roope Siiroinen
Marko Kuusisto
Paulina Blomström

Kuvatoimisto Kuvio