Planning, demolition, and stuff

Time marches on and the tower project advances. Slowly. Slower than I’d hope, but it’s a complicated project and so this was expected. If you want to know when the tower will open officially to the public, all I can say is “we’re working on it”. But if you want to know details about the progress, please read on. There are several things happening in parallel and they are all advancing.


We’re working on it

This is the most important part of the project right now. What are we going to build? How will we build it? What kind of business will it be? Although we’re focusing only on the area below the water tank (auditorium and public sauna will come later), it is still a lot to coordinate. Here are some of the challenges and why we’re still working on it.

  • LVI design is challenging. Lots of machines that take up a lot of space. We want to preserve both inside and outside spaces as much as possible so it is a challenge to hide the machines. If we put all the machines on the ground floor we don’t have space for the kitchen. If we try to put all the machines on the water tank we have to break the water tank floor. Do we have enough space between the structural beams to lift them? How do we provide ventilation without affecting the look of the facade? We’ve gone over many possible solutions in the planning. We have ideas. We’re working on it.
  • It’s everybody’s tower. With a project of this magnitude, you have to coordinate with many people. Rakennusvalvonta must like our plans. Museovirasto must like our plans. The neighbors must like our plans. They have all been really friendly and cooperative. I’m really happy about that. But we still have to keep in touch and make sure that our ideas make sense to them. This takes time. We must coordinate before we explore each solution in detail. We’re all working on it.
  • Façade. It was clear from the beginning that the facade was not in perfect condition. It needs fixing. We have been investigating its condition and considering solutions. The obvious solution is to do an entire renovation of it. But that would be prohibitively expensive. It’s also not in such a bad shape that that would be necessary. So we have explored a couple of partial solutions that would allow us to open and do the fixes progressively. The final solution has to be agreed by museovirasto, rakennusvalvonta, rappaus professionals, the bank, etc. We are working on it.
  • Café. As a computer vision engineer, designing the business plan for a café is an interesting challenge. Fortunately I’ve had some help from folks that know more than I do. We have a kitchen plan thanks to Dieta Oy. They’ve been very supportive to help put my thoughts on paper. We have a draft of the menu that the café might serve (sorry, can’t show it yet). Our business plan also has a growing list of the activities that the café can support: acoustic music evenings, halloween parties, murder mystery, rappelling groups, art exhibition opening party, storytelling evenings, open mics, yoga on the top balcony, rope acrobatic presentations, slackline mondays, etc. The way I see it, the goal of the café is not to sell coffee and pulla. The goal is to enable all the other awesome activities that can happen in the tower. Many of the architectural choices will influence this plan, so we’re still working on it.
  • Vertical movie theater. Let’s watch a movie in the tower. But lets put a bunch of mattresses on the floor and have a floating screen above us. Yes. We’ll do that. We’re still working on the practical details but we’ll do that.


We’re working on it

I might not be able to design the structural components of the upcoming platforms… but I can surely demolish the existing ones. Demolishing of the unnecessary existing structures has been happening in parallel with the planning. There was a lot of demolition last year with the vertical wooden shaft. This year I’ve been demolishing the old rooms on the ground floor. There is no hurry with this though, since the planning is still incomplete. So I go there when I can and hack at stuff while I still have energy.

  • Demolish what? Some of the walls on the ground floor are from 1927. The room on the west end with brick walls was constructed with the tower to house the heating equipment. Nowadays it is used as the electrical room. The other walls are from 1960 when the room was extended to cover half of the bottom floor. DNA Oyj used to occupy all these rooms, but they have kindly reduced their needs to 1/4 of the ground floor, so we get more space for the tower project. That means the roof and walls from the other half have to be demolished to make way for the new layout.
  • Time capsules: While bringing down the roof I found a message from the kirvesmies that built the extension in 1960. “Olavi Paloniemi, Kampitie 4B, Nokelassa. 7 lasta ja akka.” It was a pretty nice surprise. After taking down the outer layer of the old wall I also found some old initials “EK”. I wonder how old these are. I think I’ll save this brick.
  • Helping friends: Although I’ve done most of the demolishing myself to the sound of AC/DC. Sometimes I get a helping hand and it’s very appreciated. Especially when it’s about shovelling endless amounts of wood shavings. And believe me… wood shavings are everywhere…
  • Demolishing puzzle: You can’t take down the walls before you take down the roof. You can’t take the bottom of the roof before you take away the wood shavings. DNA cables are still attached to the wall that needs to be demolished. You can’t drop the roof because it breaks the cables. One bit at a time. Still, it is hard to describe how awesome it feels to be able to use a ladder instead of ropes. I love my new ladder.

Demolishing is not quite done yet. The roofs are gone. The cables are safe. Only the brick walls are left. But guess what is inside of the brick wall… wood shavings… We’re working on it.

Fun things

We’re working on it

Demolition and planning are the main tasks that move the project forward. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun in the mean time. Even though it is hard to use the tower without any infrastructure, some things are still happening.

I’m happy to enable any other fun things on or about the tower. If you have something in mind, lets work on it!
Now back to planning…

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A year has passed

sauna_pano Hello, keeper here. The blog has been quiet but only because the tower has kept me really busy. I have now officially owned the tower for a year. Time flies but not in vain. This is a recap of all that has happened during the year. Of course much more has happened, but these are the highlights.

Figuring out what to do

When I got the tower I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with it. Even when I settled with the idea of a “cultural center”, that was still abstract. Moreover, I had no experience with any sort of construction, renovation, or even business in general, so I was pretty lost. The beginning consisted of reaching out to everyone I could think of and see who was interested to help. Of course not everyone was interested, not everyone returned my calls nor emails, but I did find people that have supported me and have greatly helped me push the project forward. I could mention those that have helped the most, and to whom I’m very much in debt, butI think you know who you are and it might not be fair to the dozens that have also helped even a little bit. I’m grateful to all and the tower is at your service.

The student

tower_students Early on I learned that reaching out to big machines, like the department of architecture of the University of Oulu, doesn’t really pay off. Luckily, reaching out to people does work. I put out an invitation to work with architectural students and got a rather big crowd to visit the tower. A really good partner came out of that: architect student Juho Tastula. With his help I managed to put my ideas to paper and the abstract “cultural center” became a solid Master thesis work. Thanks to Juho the tower got a website, plans, and renders I could use to show what will become of it. This was an exciting time to see how the tower virtually transformed into the cultural center I was hoping for.

Sauna week

torni_sauna The tower participated in the Oulun Saunaviikko. We organized a tent sauna on the front yard (cause the one on the cupola is not ready yet). We took the opportunity to show off Juho’s architectural plans. Although it was a pretty nice event we had a huge storm that scared the people away. Lots of free coffee and pulla left over 🙁 sauna_pano


You have to alternate between thinking and doing, or at least I do. So even though the plans were not ready, I decided to do some real work and take down things that had to be taken down anyway. We took down two things: an old military antenna that was broken and dangerous, and the wooden structure that provided insulation for the old water pipes. torni_antenna The old antenna was tricky. It was pretty tall and several hundred kilos heavy, but rusted and broken inside the cupola. That made it pretty dangerous. I was ready to give up and “call a guy” but we finally came up with a safe plan (thanks Olli!). So we fixed it. We fixed it first and then we destroyed it. Took it down piece by piece. Pretty exciting to work an angle grinder on the top of the cupola at 45m under the midnight sun. torni_demolish But that was nothing like the excitement of demolishing the wooden structure. The awkward location meant that it all had to be done while hanging from a rope. Sometimes with a crowbar, sometimes with a reciprocating saw, sometimes with a chainsaw. Good times. That little wooden structure was finally around 2 metric tons of wood and 16.000L of wood shavings. Good times.


flow_torni The demolition was done with a deadline because the Flow Productions team had rented the tower and they were waiting and excited to move in. They took the tower in August and this month (September) the open their modern dance performance “Torni”. Check out their trailer. I might be biased, but I think it is great and highly recommend it! It is so great to finally see some life in the tower. It doesn’t look as cold and lonely as that first day.Next steps

Next steps

The design team is almost assembled. alt Architects are designing the first phase of the project. We hope to apply for the building permit soon. Demolishing was fun, but I’m dying to get some construction done too. Like always, if you are in Oulu and you want to contribute or get involved with the project, don’t hesitate to contact me. All help is useful.

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The tower has a website


Thanks to the amazing help of the student architect and designer Juho Tastula, the tower project now has a fancy logo and a brand new website.

Here we want to show you our vision and progress for the project. The frontpage should give you an idea of what we´re about. We’ll be updating the blog as the project moves forward to show what’s happening. We hope we can get you as excited with the project as we are!

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