Bright white Lumo homes are positioned around a sunny slope in a natural formation. Wild trees have been left between the buildings and in the surrounding environment, and the beautiful rockface is visible at several spots. Plantations, maintained passageways and stairs colour the landscape.
It is a stylish building that fits right alongside its culturally significant neighbouring building. Alvar Aalto designed the neighbouring terraced houses as apartments for Finnair employees. Nowadays, they are privately owned.
Greeting us in the courtyard is a man with a warm look in his eyes and a firm handshake. Markus Mannila is a resident of Pyhtäänkorventie 21 and a Lumo Team Leader.
“When the property manager asked for a volunteer to lead the Lumo team at a resident meeting in March, I signed up. I'm a positive guy and I like to interact with people. Taking care of things is something I like to do as well.”
“Cooperation with the property manager is going really smoothly. He always responds to my e-mails on the same day, and we get things moving.”- Markus
Lumo teams consist of volunteer residents who like to organise joint activities for all of the building's residents. The team leader acts as a point of contact between the residents and the property manager.
“Together with the Lumo team, we plan to organise joint yard maintenance events and come up with other nice joint activities for the residents. For example, we’re planning to organise game nights once per week. We could play outdoor games together, such as a mölkky or pétanque,” says Markus.
Bringing the village back to the city
The three current trends in housing – community, responsibility and ease of everyday life – are reasons why people are now choosing rental housing. Rental housing is no longer mandatory or just an intermediate step on the way to owner-occupied housing but rather an informed lifestyle choice.
“We should ask residents more often what they find important and what they dream about,” says Future Living Specialist Kimmo Rönkä.
As one- and two-person households have become more common and people tend to live far away from their relatives, interest in communal living is increasing.
Community is beneficial to everyone, as it is a way for residents to feel comfortable and stay committed to their home.
“If you go to Berlin, Paris or London and ask where the city centre is, the locals will find that amusing because there are actually several city centres in those cities.”
In Finnish cities, we are used to having a single city centre where all roads lead.
This tradition is now starting to crumble. Multiple new city centres have emerged in the capital region, and the smaller districts are growing as well.
As an example, Kimmo names Kauklahti in Espoo, which has become almost like a village of old. The district has a fishmonger’s, which some consider the best in Finland, and a pizzeria that serves authentic pizza baked in a Neapolitan pizza oven.
“When you find something special enough in your own neighbourhood, there’s no longer any reason to go to the centre of Helsinki to get it.”
Community is one way to add value to housing and make everyday life more meaningful.
“We used to have villages where everyone simply did what they did best. In the future, common areas and resident communities can give the residents an opportunity to pursue their calling.”
More than just a neighbour
“We definitely need more community!” says Terhi-Anna Wilska, Professor of Sociology and Consumption Reseacher at the University of Jyväskylä.
Family communities no longer live near to each other, families are smaller in size and one- and two-person households have become more common. According to Terhi-Anna, the protection of personal privacy and individualism have perhaps even gone a little too far.
“It is of the utmost importance that privacy be safeguarded. But could we have gone too far already? Is it the case that the protection of privacy creates more fears than it eradicates?” asks Terhi-Anna.
“I suspect that if we were physically in touch with each other more, we would be less suspicious of others.”
Common areas are natural meeting places. You can catch up if you happen to stumble upon a neighbour in the washing room. Terhi-Anna also encourages us to think about community in terms of how residents can support each other in their everyday lives.
“Maybe young people could help the elderly with digital problems, and maybe the elderly could in return look after the young people’s children once in a while?”
The neighbourhood can offer a variety of shopping assistance and helping hands with watering the flowers, but first you need to get acquainted, and you need natural meeting places for that to happen.
“Places for people to hang out,” says Terhi-Anna.
Cake parties and spectator sports
Markus takes us around the common areas, the gym and two club rooms. The gym is located on the ground floor of the building.
“We use an electronic badge for coming and going here,” says Markus as he opens the gym door.
The gym has an exercise bike, a rowing machine and various pulleys. The gym is great for basic training, and the residents can use it free of charge.
The club room is in another building, and we walk across the courtyard to get there.
“If I see something in the courtyard that the maintenance company or the property manager should know about, I'll send them a message,” says Markus.
He finds it unfortunate that a flowerpot with a whole new set of summer flowers was knocked down by a removal van. The position of Lumo Team Leader has clearly made Markus take responsibility over the courtyard areas.
The bright and stylish club room is functional in size, much like an extra living room with a kitchen and toilet. From there, you have direct access to the terrace and the sunny yard, where you can find tables and a swing and sandbox for children.
“You can watch YouTube on the TV in the large club room, and we have 100-Mbps broadband there. The same internet connection speed is also included in the rent of the apartments.”- Markus
The place looks perfect for organising children’s birthday parties and other events. The kitchen is equipped with utensils. And you could even organise a training course here or invite a lecturer to talk about tray system cultivation. The two dining tables can accommodate up to 12 people, and the room has a comfortable sofa and a large TV as well.
“I had my birthday here. In the spring, I also invited my friends to watch the Ice Hockey World Championships,” says Markus.
Bookings are made digitally via the residents' own My Lumo web service, which is where you get the access code. The residents can use the space free of charge.
Do you want your everyday life at home to be as smooth and effortless as possible? Read our article on the ease of everyday life
Are you interested in a sustainable lifestyle and reducing your carbon footprint? Read our article on sustainability
“Some buildings have cultivation trays in the summer, some have disc golf baskets. The play and barbecue areas in many of the yards have been improved together with the residents,” says Maria Pottonen, Property Manager at Lumo homes.
The Lumo teams have building-specific budgets that the team can use for the common good in the way they see fit. Games have been procured for club rooms and catering for courtyard maintenance events.
“There are several Lumo buildings in Veromies, Vantaa. For a long time, we have been planning a bigger summer event where all the residents of the nearly five hundred Lumo apartments in the area would be welcome,” says Maria.
She considers the concrete development proposals received from the Lumo teams to be particularly important, as only the residents can know what is really needed since they are the ones who live in the building and use the courtyard and common spaces.
“The Lumo teams foster the team spirit and through them new residents can find themselves part of the community.”
In the operations of the Lumo teams, it is important that the resident demographics and different wishes and needs are taken into account.
“I'm happy to see that the neighbours care about each other and also want to take good care of the common spaces and the courtyard. The Lumo teams are to thank for achieving this level of commitment,” Maria says with a smile.
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