Some say that no one is better at foreseeing fluctuations of the economy than architects. Of course, HPAC contractors would disagree, and we’re not even going to ask what investment bankers think. The truth is though that when building projects become sparser, architects have already been waiting for their phones to ring for half a year before. But the waves of fluctuation also breed winners.
Tough race to be the best in Oulu
The architecture firm Lukkaroinen has offices in central Oulu and Helsinki. CEO Mikko Lukkaroinen greets his guest on a Monday morning with a smile on his face. It’s a tough race to be the best architecture business in Oulu, but right now Lukkaroinen seems to be slightly ahead. ‘The revenue clearly surpassed 4 million’, Lukkaroinen says when asked about last year’s figures. ‘Our personnel grew to over sixty. We managed to recruit some really good people.’
When looking at Lukkaroinen’s figures over the past ten years, one has to ask how the company has managed to keep growing even during these tough years. Excluding a dip in 2008 when the whole building industry experienced reduced growth, Lukkaroinen has not only steadily grown but even gained revenue. ‘We specialise in hospital and school design,’ reveals Lukkaroinen. ‘They will always need to be built or repaired, fluctuation or not.’
Great things come for those who take risks
Bidding for big contracts is a risk that’s worth it if the company comes out as the winner. ‘We can’t afford to lose too many alliance projects per year’, says Mikko Lukkaroinen. ‘That’s why we really dedicate ourselves to them.’ The amused architect sitting next to Lukkaroinen is Timo Leiviskä. He was a part of the team who designed the Hiukkasvaara community centre which was the first alliance-type school project that the firm Lukkaroinen took under. ‘Big room concept, interaction between different parties of the design process, quick reactions to requests’, is how Leiviskä describes alliance methods. Leiviskä is also a shareholder at the company so naturally he’s happy the company is succeeding.
The new school curriculum has an effect on how schools are built these days.
Schools are now designed to be multi-faceted learning environments where space adaptability and openness are important factors. ‘We work with people like acoustics designers to reach the optimal usability’, says Lukkaroinen. ‘All in all, collaboration is in the centre of our design process. The Building Information model and tools that support team work are all a part of this development.’
IT behind growth
Design systems require computers with sufficient capacity and a stable internet connection. ‘If we can’t connect to the internet, our whole office in Helsinki is pretty soon twiddling their thumbs’, Lukkaroinen says on the importance of the internet. ‘That’s why we’ve trusted Netox with our information systems for over ten years already.’ Netox has just released their own figures which indicate impressive growth. Netox CEO Mikko Luhtaniemi says that the figures are in line with the company strategy. ‘We want to grow with our customers. We help each other to grow. That’s how we all win.’