If you ever visit Helsinki, Finland and ask a native what you should see, he will probably mention the cathedral, the old island fortress and the Allas Sea Pool. The Allas Sea Pool, a floating sea spa, has quickly become one of the most popular destinations in the Finnish capital for residents and tourists alike. It was created by Bluet, a Finnish company specialised in waterfront development with floating solutions.
“Waterfront development doesn’t need to stop on the shoreline. You can go over the edge of land to the water,” says Tytti Sirola, co-founder and CEO of Bluet.
Bluet designs and implements floating solutions that improve waterfront areas. They work with real estate developers, cities, construction companies and the operators of services such as restaurants, marinas or spas. Their hybrid solutions are not simply traditional waterfront development or floating buildings. Instead, they open up a new world of opportunities not available with either option alone.
Save money, time and the environment
The waterfront is some of the most desirable real estate in any city, but it can be problematic to develop. Waterfront real estate is limited, unless you want to engage in the expensive, tedious and invasive work of land reclamation. Bluet’s solution is simple: expand from the shore onto water. Floating construction brings new opportunities to develop waterfronts.
“The benefits of floating construction are improved sustainability, versatility and profits,” Sirola continues. “Floating solutions can be much more environmentally friendly than land reclamation. Floating solutions can also be temporary. For example, you could use a floating platform for a seasonal restaurant, or even for a temporary construction site.”
Construction can be especially challenging in the tight confines of a developed waterfront. In Sweden Bluet was involved in a project to redevelop an old residential area. The problem developers faced was a lack of space for construction site services. Bluet designed floating platforms so the construction company could set up a base of operations. When the project is completed the floating foundations will be converted into swimming pools.
Another added benefit is that floating adds to the experience. People don’t recommend the Allas Sea Pool because there are no other spas or saunas in Helsinki; they recommend it because it provides a fantastic experience of floating on the Baltic Sea with unparalleled views in the city centre.
Floating swimming pools and spas are enormously popular. Bluet has developed floating pools across Europe and also cooperate with the ingenious Panko concept. Panko combines Scandinavian design, timber construction, sustainable solutions, sauna and Nordic flavours into one experience. Panko’s luxury products are used in high-end hotels, marinas, golf resorts and other establishments. Bluet works with Panko to take care of waterfront development, technical solutions, construction and project implementation.
There are many other possibilities for floating solutions, including leisure and commercial areas. Floating concert stages can give beach-goers an unforgettable evening, or a place with limited parking could even have floating car lots. Bluet even created a floating seal habitat for a zoo, including trees, rocks and a pool. The zoo was located on a small island and did not have space for the new exhibit, so Bluet created a floating habitat.
“Housing projects are also popular, because people love to live next to the sea,” says Sirola. “We are currently working on a major project which will be the largest floating residential area in the Nordic region. It includes 40 buildings and all the necessary infrastructure like roads and bridges.”
Creative as well as scientific
Many projects require an individual and customised solution, but Bluet noticed that many of their customers needed particular products which were either extremely expensive or simply didn’t exist. To solve this challenge Bluet created their own products in the categories of floating infrastructure, pools and multiuse platforms. They are modular, scalable and are modified to specific projects to fit local permits and site requirements.
The floating infrastructure includes pontoons, anchoring, technical connections and several types of foundations. The pool products include heated pools and the popular natural water pools, which can be bottomless or a mesh pool. If the surrounding water quality isn’t adequate, Bluet can also deliver a filtering system. Bluet’s modular floating platform can be easily combined with others to form a variety of shapes and sizes.
“I consider Bluet as a ‘realiser’, in that we make visions feasible,” Sirola says. “We don’t just create ideas for the distant future, but we also aren’t only an engineering company. We are creative as well as scientific. If a customer wants something that can’t be done in their budget, we tell them. When we come to a solution we make it a reality. We make it happen.”
Bluet believes in a full-service process, including pre-planning, pre-construction, delivery and lifecycle services. They help clients with concept and feasibility in order to achieve their vision of the project. In pre-construction Bluet works on all the millions of details on sizes, materials, technology, transportation and assembly. In delivery they manufacture, deliver and test the product. Once the project is running Bluet doesn’t disappear; they can provide lifetime services such as maintenance and inspections. They can guide the entire project through each phase, but the flexible working model also allows them to only handle specific tasks.
“In effect, we join the client’s team,” Sirola explains. “We are a part of the local team, working with the local general contractor and the client’s own project team. It works very well. Together we can create the perfect floating solution for their needs.”
Editor: David J. Cord