Unity Technologies Finland

The Helsinki office was extended and upgraded for the hybrid era

The Helsinki office of the international software company Unity is located in central Helsinki, on the 6th and 7th floors of the Makkaratalo building. Compared to Unity offices in other large cities, Helsinki feels like an idyllic small village where everything is close by, including nature. However, personnel growth has also been rapid in Helsinki, and nowadays an increasing number of the employees work both remotely and at the office. The Helsinki office was upgraded to meet the demands of this growth and the hybrid era, based on the space types defined in the Unity Workplace 2.0 playbook, without forgetting the connection to nature that is typical of the Helsinki office.

Boldness and locality as the starting point

The aim of the project was to improve the functionality of the Helsinki office to make it better meet the needs of the growing organisation and the changing work culture. The change was implemented in connection with the property renovation, and it covered the current space of approximately 3,000 square metres and the 1,100 square metre extension. Although the upgraded office is still located in the same space, the starting point for the new design was boldness: “Doing things boldly and at full volume is a good match for Unity’s values. In this project, boldness was evident in the colour and material choices and the spatial division system that supports modern office work that takes places in multiple locations,” says Riina Ruska, Lead Designer for the project.

“The nature of work in this environment diverges significantly from our other offices. There’s a heightened focus on programming, with teams engaged in both desk-based and on-site activities. The initiative brought a refreshing vibrancy to our workspaces, making them more inviting and illuminated. Moreover, we introduced versatile and collaborative think tank areas, departing from traditional formal meeting rooms,” Tara Oberoi, Manager of Global Environments for Unity, explains.

The following design drivers were specified together with the Unity team:

  • functional – practical and flexible
  • inspiring – premium but cosy
  • collaborative – spaces for cooperation and meeting others
  • sustainable – responsible design choices and connection with nature

Rune & Berg Design was responsible for the interior architecture and graphic design of the Helsinki office and for curating art for the office. We also designed temporary premises for the client in the same property during the renovation. “In the past, each Unity office would look the same around the world, but nowadays the emphasis is on local elements. The client wanted to ensure that when someone comes, for example, from Montreal to Helsinki, they immediately know where they are. That is why we made the atmosphere of the space more distinctively Finnish and fresher, and we selected the urban forest in Helsinki as the underlying theme,” Riina says, describing the starting point for the design.

“We greatly admire your commitment to the entire design process, from inception to completion, and we genuinely value the holistic approach you bring. Your team’s prowess as designers is evident, and the collaboration was seamless — an experience we thoroughly enjoyed,” says Tara, describing what it was like to work with Rune & Berg Design.

Hybrid environment with inspiring encounters and urban nature

The transformation of the Helsinki office covered not only the technical building system and lighting but also the functionality of the space and the different roles of different spaces. The office still serves as the home base of the teams and offers ergonomic workstations for coding, but the new spaces emphasise encounters with other Unity employees: an extensive social hub was created on the 6th floor, the meeting rooms were made more varied and, for example, the floor area of the workplace cafeteria was doubled. “We analysed the need for different types of spaces by interviewing and observing Unity employees in their work. Another important thing to note was the global Unity community – there are teams in which not all members work at the Finnish office,” Riina says.

The atmosphere of the space is bolder and more Finnish than before, built on, for example, the furniture, graphic elements and curated pieces of art. Almost all of the furniture we purchased is Finnish, and environmental friendliness was an important criterion in making the design choices. For example, as the floor material, we selected an alternative that was not only functional but also the most ecological. The bold graphic details and materials highlight the urban nature of Helsinki: the names and icons of the meeting rooms refer to locally well-known animals and plants, such as city bunnies and lily of the valley, and the glazed walls of the meeting room are adorned by the skyline of Helsinki with its signature landmarks. “Through the narrow horizontal windows of Makkaratalo, you can see all the major landmarks of Helsinki, from the Cathedral to the Lyhdynkantajat sculptures of Helsinki Central Railway Station and the tower of the Helsinki Olympic Stadium,” says Riikka Kuukka, AD, who led the graphic spatial and signage concept and curated the office art.

“The Helsinki office is truly impressive — the outcome exceeded our expectations, offering both a great aesthetic and enhanced comfort for work. Its unique design sets it apart from conventional offices, and we couldn’t be more pleased with the final result”, Tara says.

Art offers a moment of relaxation

The emphasis on locality can also be seen in the works of art selected for the office, mainly by rising local artists, which makes the office more attractive as an inspiring alternative to hectic days at the home office. “Unity has really understood the importance of art in promoting the well-being of its employees. They invest in it in all their offices around the world. The materials, colours and message of the works selected for the Helsinki office support the overall concept of nature at the heart of the Helsinki,” Riikka explains. “The aim was to make people feel their best at the office. They get a moment of relaxation by looking out the window or admiring the works of art,” Riina continues.

Unity’s employees could vote for their favourites among the works of art suggested by Rune & Berg Design. For the Helsinki office, the team chose, for example, imaginative sculptures for the Tori working café, a mobile sculpture by Jenni Rope for the interior staircase that connects the two floors, and textile art for the library to create perfect silence. “The fusion of art and graphics was monumental, and the curation was executed with excellence. Its quirky nature resonates with the Helsinki team and our cultural identity, underscoring our desire to cultivate offices that embody a distinctive local flair.” Tara adds.

“All in all, the new Helsinki office is fresh, functional and cosier than before – a good place for people and shared moments,” Riina concludes.  The users agree: “Everyone was really excited to see how the Helsinki office was transformed – how subtle changes make such a big impact. Everyone is going to be ecstatic, feedback has been positive,” Tara concludes.