The Martha Organization is moving to Tuultenristi with their garden

“The trick to remaining relevant is to keep track of both global and local phenomena,” says Pirkko Haikkala, Secretary General at Uudenmaan Martat ry.

“We visit various locations in person to study current phenomena and wishes on how to improve the well-being of families and life in general.”

New topical themes arise constantly. For example, current phenomena include energy conservation and how everyone can affect their energy usage or how to make sustainable choices to mitigate climate change. In addition to addressing current themes, the organization is involved with long-term strategic planning. A good example of this is the theme of preparation for 2023, outlined in 2019, which has become even more topical. The Marthas have been experts in preparation throughout the organization’s history, and they promote the theme in a manner that suits the current status of society. In times of war, preparation was different than it is today. At the moment, preparation involves digital skills and cyber security in addition to food supply.  For example, it must be considered and acknowledged how current and future smart homes affect cyber security and how to use the web safely. These things should be basic civic skills.

The headquarters of the Uusimaa Martha District Association is currently located on Lapinlahdenkatu, in the heart of Helsinki. However, they are relocating to Espoo in spring 2023. The new premises are located in Tuultenristi in Tapiola, Espoo, which is currently being built next to the shopping center Ainoa. 

Why did you decide to move?

“The current premises started to feel a little cramped and they were nearing the end of their service life anyway. We started looking for new premises three years ago in 2019, when we visited many different premises, especially in the city center of Helsinki. Later on, we expanded the search to the areas around the metro line and train stations. Although we considered a wide variety of locations, none of them felt right or they required a massive renovation to fit the kitchens we use. In the end, it was apparent that moving to any location currently available would require considerable renovation, which would be difficult and consume both time and money. We felt like giving up. Then, it was suggested that we could move to the Tuultenristi building under construction in Tapiola, where we could have a say in everything. The choice was easy as we can now get exactly the premises we want.”

How does sustainability affect your selection of premises?

Sustainability has been among the selection criteria for new premises from the very beginning. The operations of the Martha Organization are based on specific values; sustainable choices, responsibility, joy in working together, openness and equality—these are integral in the operations of the association. 

“Our daily operations are very sustainable. This means that we take people, the environment and the climate into consideration in all solutions we offer to our customers as the themes for various courses and lectures, for example. It is only natural that our premises must also be sustainable. For example, when planning our kitchen, we ensured that all the materials used are as durable as possible and easy to keep clean and that the premises have good recycling systems and customer logistics that allow for as low-emission access to the premises as possible. The Marthas’ principle is to generate as little waste as possible, which is why it is important that the ingredients are stored and kept in ideal locations. This sets certain requirements for refrigeration appliances, as they must be as energy efficient as possible.

Sustainability is also apparent in the location of our premises. It is important that our premises are easily accessible with low-emission options, which is why they need to be located next to good public transport connections.”

Why Espoo and Tapiola, isn’t the area pretty remote when compared to Helsinki city center?

“The location of our new premises was determined on the basis of our customers. We studied how our customers access our premises and noticed that up to 70% of them took the metro. We considered other locations first, such as Pasila, but we decided that the metro is not only useful, but the majority of our customers already use it. Rail traffic is the most ecological option among public transport alternatives to visit our courses. Then, we listed the metro station locations that were close enough to the Helsinki city center. We knew that the location matters as the distance between Eastern Helsinki and the backwoods of Espoo is too long. Tapiola is a neutral location that is close to everything, and what’s best, it happens to be a hub of traffic within Espoo.” 

What expectations do the Marthas have for the new premises?

“Our expectations are very high as we have had the chance to shape the premises and the materials selected. It is wonderful to have access to a shared system to see how the project is advancing. We can rotate and study the illustrations and each of us is likely to know the location of every faucet or fixture. We are now waiting for the chance to visit the location in person to think about our processes, for example, which routes our customers will take in the premises and how things in general will work in the property.

Our courses are fully booked for the next six months, and we are now facing a situation where we are imagining the premises and their use in advance when they are still under construction. However, I am sure that everything will go smoothly as our entire personnel is involved in the planning of the premises. We have planned the kitchen together and made different plans to see how it fits the space the best. Everyone has contributed, which is why I think that our personnel are already very committed to the new premises.

We are also very eager to move into the new premises so that we can gain new kitchens, a completely new separate studio area and a green roof where we will set up our garden of useful plants and arrange gardening courses. Large planting pots have been installed on the roof for us to plant various useful plants and to teach how to tend to them in our courses. We are living in an era of climate change, and cultivation conditions are becoming increasingly drier and hotter. We will use the south-facing, sunny roof as a sort of test laboratory, where we can test the cultivation of new plants, such as ginger, which has been impossible to grow in Finland due to the climate.”


Do the Marthas have anything to say to their new neighbors in Tuultenristi?

“Our operations are pretty social and we like to cooperate with different companies. Expect us to ask for a specialist to visit our courses as a guest lecturer, or you can visit our meal preparation courses as a team building exercise. We are really hopeful that there will be a restaurant in the building and, although we have our own meeting service, we cannot arrange catering on our own. I am sure that concrete cooperation will take place. 

Along with our fixtures and furniture, we are keeping our traditions: during Christmas, we prepare Christmas porridge for our customers, neighbors, partners and employees. We make dozens of liters of porridge and distribute it to different parties.”

Marthas’ recipe for efficient use of premises

  1. Plan carefully the intended use of each space. It is important that the premises support the company’s basic processes and that it has been carefully planned for what purpose each space exists. Think about the intended use of each space carefully. 
  2. Make the plans available to others. The intended use of a space might not be immediately apparent to others, so it is important that discussions are held. Everyone must know and be familiar with the intended use of different spaces and how to act according to common ground rules. 
  3. Everyone is responsible for keeping things in order. Every item has its own place and the premises are kept clean and in good condition together so that if there is something that needs to be repaired, it is either repaired or a technician is called to repair it. Cleanliness and sanitation must be ensured and it must be easy to keep the premises clean and in order.
  4. Think carefully about what devices are really needed every day. If a device consumes energy, think carefully whether the device is actually needed and, if yes, how powerful the device must be. For example, is it necessary to get a large printer that is not used on a daily basis but kept on standby? Do the premises have various appliances that consume a lot of energy and are kept on even if they are not used?
  5. Invest in the atmosphere and attractiveness of the premises. It is important that the premises are attractive and reflect the company at least in some way to make people enjoy the atmosphere there. All of this has a tremendous impact on whether people want to come to the office or work remotely. Invest in the breakrooms and staffrooms to offer some variety to the employees. Attractive premises and a good atmosphere will bring the people back to the office in the end. The interior has a surprisingly large effect on both attractiveness and the well-being of personnel.
  1. Recycle whenever possible. In addition to recycling office paper, you should always think in advance if printing is needed in the first place. For example, the Marthas are facing a major concrete improvement by providing its customers with tablets where they can read the recipes and have them sent to them via e-mail.
  2. The location of the premises matters. With regard to new premises, it is important that they are easily accessible by public transport. They must be easily accessible and fully obstacle-free. This requirement excluded many alternatives for the Marthas’ new premises as any location that was only accessible by car was out of the question. The location must be sustainably and easily accessible to everyone—according to the values of Marthas as well.


Did you know that if you follow the Marthas’ recipes, you cannot go wrong as they are all tested in advance?

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