How YIT uses Spacemaker on infill projects

Spacemaker Team
Spacemaker Team January 10, 2023 7 min read
Image courtesy of YIT.


The project developer and construction company YIT operates in nine European countries, building apartments, commercial premises, public buildings, and infrastructure. Regardless of the location or the scale of the project, the goal is to create good, attractive urban environments that are pleasant for people to live and work in. 
Digital tools are widely used at YIT. “They are very important in today’s design work. Our own data and analytics team does market analysis, price analysis and geographic data analysis using big data,” says project development manager Ilkka Oikarinen. YIT has been using Spacemaker since the beginning of 2021 for different types of projects, including infill development. 

Ilkka Oikarinen, project development manager at YIT
Ilkka Oikarinen, project development manager at YIT. Image courtesy of YIT.

Oikarinen works in YIT’s land acquisition and site development team for residential construction in the Helsinki metropolitan area. The team’s goal is to acquire construction rights for YIT. To achieve the goal, the team makes land use sketches, carries out market analyses to determine what price level can be paid for a certain plot, negotiates with landowners, purchases plots, and prepares land use plans for construction together with municipal zoning authorities. 

Currently, the team’s capital region portfolio includes several housing projects. The project size varies from approximately 2,000 floor m2, which usually corresponds to a 6–8 floor apartment building, to regional projects that cover several residential apartment buildings.

Helsinki metropolitan area
Ilkka Oikarinen works in YIT’s land acquisition and site development team for residential construction in the Helsinki metropolitan area. Photography: Veikko Venemies for Unsplash.

Analysis is crucial for evaluating a project’s feasibility 
The role of infill construction is becoming more prominent in urban construction. For example, the city of Helsinki has outlined that infill construction will make the urban structure more compact, which supports the city’s goals of curbing climate change and creating more jobs and services for people.
For making the right choices in tenders that are worth an offer in the first place, preliminary analysis plays a key role. With the help of Spacemaker, YIT has gained a better understanding of the entity at hand. There are plenty of potential sites. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the company only takes forward projects that are feasible and meet the requirements of a good urban environment. In addition, time is often a decisive factor.  
Spacemaker has quickly become a central tool for analysing sites. It helps YIT’s land acquisition team to quickly understand the opportunities and risks of the projects. “Competition for projects is fierce. It is important that the projects that go forward have been carefully researched and analyzed to ensure that they are feasible for us. Spacemaker brings informative added value to our internal analysis. We can analyze the boundary conditions in more detail, what is paid for and what is offered,” says Oikarinen. 
Spacemaker helps YIT’s team in a very practical manner by enabling easy analysis of numerous features that affect, for example, living comfort and thereby the value of apartments and plots. The user receives visualized analyses of e.g., traffic noise, views, wind, and sunlight directly from the software. 
Many criteria affect feasibility. The most significant is the plot’s location as it has a major effect on the price level of the apartments. “The prices of apartments are affected by, for example, the brand and reputation of the neighbourhood, the possibility for interesting views, the surrounding services, and public transport connections. In a couple of our projects, Spacemaker’s view analysis helped us realize see that, contrary to our prior expectations, the apartments would have sea views, which has added great value.” 

The feasibility analysis also examines the shape of the plot and how it affects the massing and parking solutions. For example, if it turns out that underground parking needs to be built, the project costs will increase. Also, the current master zoning plan sets various boundary conditions affecting costs, such as plot efficiency, i.e., how much can be built on the plot. In addition, it is necessary to consider how the soil affects the foundation conditions. 

Spacemaker’s view analysis
Using Spacemaker’s view analysis helped the YIT team better understand how views to points of interest would affect the value of the apartments. Image courtesy of YIT.

Visualization improves dialogue 
Infill construction often requires more analysis and more detailed planning compared to projects located outside the urban fabric. Oikarinen considers Spacemaker’s ability to address these requirements in a dense, existing urban structure as one of its main benefits. “It is a big advantage that Spacemaker allows us to study in advance how the new building masses affect the views for residents in the neighbouring buildings, how close the new building can be and how the courtyard areas will look like.” 
Oikarinen explains that the implementation of infill development depends heavily on zoning, which is influenced by political decisions. In Finland, the municipalities have a city planning monopoly, and the municipalities also conduct meetings with residents about zoning-related topics. Change may likely cause resistance. “Spacemaker’s visualization tools are also an important aid in discussions with landowners and residents of the area. The discussion becomes easier when we can simply visualise the project and make its impact on the environment visible,” says Oikarinen. 

Spacemaker makes the bidding process more efficient and saves time
Spacemaker has made the preparation of an offer more efficient and shortened the bidding time. “Our workflow is more efficient with Spacemaker. With Spacemaker, we can produce a plot plan sketch quickly by ourselves,” Oikarinen explains. 

Saving time also means reducing costs. All in all, Oikarinen estimates that working has become approximately 20% more efficient thanks to Spacemaker. 

Currently, Spacemaker is used by about ten YIT employees in Finland. According to Oikarinen, YIT’s employees have found Spacemaker to be an easy-to-adopt software. During the one-day tutorial course, it became clear to him that a user who already has experience with digital design tools can quickly start using Spacemaker independently. The well-received Help Center gives quick answers when assistance is needed.  

The software has helped enable a faster and more fluid workflow. Oikarinen: “Establishing projects is fast and easy with Spacemaker as the user can quickly create terrain elevation models and import data from public sources such as existing buildings and the road network. In Finland, it is possible to import a lot of public geographic and building mass data. Spacemaker’s user interface is intuitive, and you can use it to make plot use sketches quickly, for example, to find out how much new construction can be carried out feasibly on the investigated plot.” 

Another useful feature is how Spacemaker automatically generates apartment floorplans. During the project development phase, it is possible to quickly check e.g., how the building width affects the orientation of the apartments. 

Infill construction serves sustainable city development 
Oikarinen comments that infill construction significantly affects society as a whole. “Infill construction serves the sustainable development of cities. Energy is saved when less new municipal infrastructure needs to be built and when projects are created close to existing public transport connections. In general, this results in a more effective urban structure,” he emphasizes. 

In addition, an important reason for infill construction is the urban economic aspect. “For example, in an old neighbourhood, the age structure becomes skewed over time, which affects the area. When the area receives new residents, it means new customers for entrepreneurs and public services, revitalizing the neighbourhood,” says Oikarinen.

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