Parliament of Finland
The House of Parliament shines and shines after a complete renovation. New technology has also been hidden in the restored halls.
We enter Arcadia Hill through a metal detector at the side gate on Eduskuntakatu. The main entrance to the Eduskunta building on the Mannerheimintie side, between the pillars, is reserved for ceremonial use only.
We are met by Esa Mommo, a planner from the Parliament's Information Management Office. He has been Audico Systems' contact person for the equipment supply and installation of the Parliament House, following almost two years of renovation, restoration and conservation. Soon we will be following him deep into the bowels of the building and its labyrinthine corridors.
Mommo says that it took him - like all new MEPs and staff - a year or two before moving from one building to another on the 'campus' became easy.
The Eduskuntatalo area is like a small enclosed city in the heart of Helsinki: in addition to the main building, there is at least an annex, a library building, a small parliament and a couple of wing buildings. There are a couple of small buildings, the main building and a couple of parks, connected by corridors with more spaces along the way. There are several corridors, some of which are connected by walkways. Visitors are not allowed in the secret underground corridors.
Fortunately, there is room in the corridors and halls when the delegates are off today. Groups of visitors are met by guides, because anyone can come to this public institution to observe the plenary session or just to get to know the House. Photographs can be taken.
The renovation covered everything: water pipes, drains, heating system and ventilation, for example. Security solutions and telecommunications were rethought, and the movement of people and goods was made easier.
In addition to the building services, there was a major restoration and conservation project to restore the original spirit of the 1931 building to its former glory. 3,000 pieces of furniture designed for the house, such as chairs and tables, were restored, the walls and ceiling paintings were conserved and the cane tiles in the ceiling dome of the seating room were carefully cleaned.
"Never since has such a thorough renovation been done on this building. The difficulty was compounded by the fact that everything was done to the exact plans of the National Board of Antiquities, and that layering and traces of previous renovations had to be left visible," says Esa Mommo, showing the cracks in the columns of the famous funky café on the second floor.
We admire the gleaming marble staircases and their Art Deco rosettes on the balustrades at the south and north ends of the main building. The walls surrounding the staircase are so bright that you can see your own image through them. At one point we see the old paternoster lift in full operation. This "gentleman's lift" loops from floor to floor without doors.
The closer you get to the circular chamber, the more magnificent the space becomes," says Esa Mommo, showing the State Hall bathed in watery shades. The East Wing Hall serves as the Parliament's banqueting hall for official and prestigious occasions and has a door to the Chamber.
Audico Systems was the direct contractor for the renovation of the Parliament Building. The most laborious phase of the AV contract for the Chamber was the replacement of the MPs' booths. A rectangular device with login, call and vote buttons, a touchscreen, a usb charging socket and a microphone at the end of a twin-supported swan neck is embedded in the desks of each delegate.
Audico designed and LST-Production - a subsidiary of Audico - assembled more than two hundred booths at its production facilities in Turku, Finland. The instruments were installed in the auditorium as the Jacaranda slats came out of the restored stage set up in the auditorium by furniture restorer Mikael Holma. The software for the machine was developed jointly by Tieto, Saralab and Audico.
Audico renovated and renewed the familiar voting boards on the wall of the Chamber. The distribution boards, which indicate the presence of delegates and the result of the vote, were replaced with new digital ones. The official clock in the Chamber, which runs along the edge of the Speaker's gallery, was cleaned and serviced, as were the discreet pillar speakers in the Chamber. Audico also installed modern audio connections in the press box in the gallery, new equipment for the technicians' workstation in the hall and refurbished the call boxes located throughout the building.
"The scheduling between the various parties involved in such a prestigious building site and the countless negotiations between different parties brought sweat to the surface during this special project, but we managed everything perfectly," says Raino Hyttinen, Development Director at Audico Systems. He was involved in the AV part of the renovation from start to finish.
Mr Hyttinen and installer Ari Riipinen still visit the building frequently, as work is still ongoing on the revamp of the Parliament's speech recording system. The Parliament has also signed a maintenance contract with Audico, which ensures that in the event of an equipment failure or similar problem, help will arrive quickly.
Text by Tom Nyman
Photos by Kuvio & Audico
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