The popularity of urban landscaping is growing among both households and the corporate world. According to a recently published report by Garden Media Group, this year’s gardening trends highlight the owner’s personality, style and needs, as well as healthy lifestyles. This is also true for the haircare company Kao Finland Oy.

According to the Garden Trends 2015 report recently published in the United States, the popularity of urban landscaping is growing as people adopt more ecological views. A beautiful environment is not only aesthetically pleasing, but it also improves health and wellbeing.

Natural yards and gardens are also increasing in popularity in business premises construction. They are seen as an extension of the business premises, an ecological and comfortable space for both regular work as well as occasions such as customer events.

Sponda constructed a Japanese garden for Kao Finland premises at Unioninkatu.

Urban landscaping can also mean rooftop gardens and using vegetation as building material. A rooftop garden can produce plants such as herbs, or provide food for bees to facilitate the collection of honey. Perennials and other plants have also become more commonly used as construction materials.

Urban landscaping supports the environmental values of a business and also offers other benefits. Using vegetation as building material is cost-effective and reduces the carbon footprint of the companies using it, regarding e.g. heating and manufacturing costs. Plants and vegetation also produce oxygen in the atmosphere. Attractive landscaping and green gardens reduce stress, which has been found to increase productivity and motivation.

The garden enhances Kao's brand.

A Japanese feeling in central Helsinki

Environmental values are important to Kao Finland Oy. Part of the Japanese conglomerate KAO Corporation, it is one of the largest haircare companies in Finland. The products Kao markets in Finland include GOLDWELL and KMS California haircare products.

In January, Kao Finland moved to its new office in central Helsinki. The atmosphere in the inner courtyard of the office building at Unioninkatu 24 may come as a surprise. The courtyard holds a genuine Japanese garden of their own, which is a great fit with the brand image of this Japanese company.

Kao Finland moved to these Sponda-owned premises in January. The relocation was preceded by a complete transformation of the premises. The detailed plans and improvements also extended to the inner courtyard.

Piia Forsman is responsible for Kao Salon's bsuiness development.

“We wanted to consolidate all of our operations in a single space, to support closer collaboration between teams, and to benefit from the synergies brought about by daily encounters. Another key goal was to be closer to our end customers,” says Piia Forsman, Business Development Manager at Kao Salon Oy.

The company now has nearly 900 square metres of space at its disposal on two floors. Built in the 1920s, the property exudes the attractive spirit of an old building.

“Compared to a newly built office building, these premises are much more multidimensional and have more personality. The upstairs is U-shaped, and we also have mezzanines and a Japanese garden in the inner courtyard.

Simple and natural style

As a subsidiary of the Japanese KAO Group, the company’s day-to-day operations are guided by Japanese values.

“We wanted this to be visible to our end customers, namely hair stylists. We use the inner courtyard for customer events and hair fashion shows. A Japanese courtyard in central Helsinki is something truly unique! We have received a lot of positive feedback about it,” Forsman says with a smile.

She appreciates Sponda’s co-operation thus far, also with regard to Kao Finland’s wishes related to urban landscaping. Especially in the spring when flowers bloom, the inner courtyard is a place where you can calm your mind and let go of stress. The basic elements of the inner courtyard are stones, evergreen plants, water and various wooden structures.

“Sponda has been an admirably flexible co-operation partner throughout this project. In an international organisation, decisions sometimes take time. We brought up the idea of a Japanese garden at a very early stage, even before the spatial design process had even begun. Sponda completely understood its significance for our company,” Forsman adds.

Garden Media Group: 2015 Garden Trends Report

Text: Nina Garlo-Melkas



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Unioninkatu 24, Helsinki, Kaartinkaupunki
Unioninkatu 24

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Jenni Nivalainen
Senior Manager, Leasing and Customer Success