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Safe drinking water for an old shipyard and sawmill area in Oulu

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The Pateniemi waterfront area in Oulu, Northern Finland, has played a major role in the history of Finnish industrialisation. In the mid-19th century, its shipyard built large merchant vessels, and later it was the location of one of the largest sawmills of its time. Now the waterfront, which was in industrial use for over 100 years, is entering a new era with the completion of a residential area for 2,500 inhabitants. Uponor Barrier PLUS pipes – which are both durable and non-permeable – will ensure a safe supply of drinking water in this area.


The new seaside district of Oulu, Veneenveistäjänranta, is being built in Pateniemi, a waterfront area of around 70 hectares that was previously the location of a shipyard and sawmill. When completed, Veneenveistäjänranta will be home to 2,500 people and will be a unique area with over one kilometre of shoreline, a marina and numerous parks.


The waterfront area was in industrial use for over 100 years. Shipbuilding began in Pateniemi in 1856, when businessmen in Oulu set up a shipyard there. Over the years, it became one of the largest Finnish shipyards of its time. It was a major employer in the city, with more than 400 people working there at its peak. It built ships that mainly brought grain to Europe from the United States, India and Australia.
When shipbuilding decreased in the 1870s, a steam-powered sawmill was established in Pateniemi. Sawmill operations continued there for over 100 years until 1990.
The area is now owned by Aalto Construction Oy, who have made an agreement with the City of Oulu about cooperation and zoning.


Brisk construction in the area


Veneenveistäjänranta is now being built at a rapid pace. Many construction companies are hard at work and the new residential area is scheduled to be fully completed by 2030.
One of the developers is the Oulu-based company Rakennus-Hanka Oy, whose houses are being built in three phases. The first homes were completed in autumn 2021 just a stone’s throw away from the seashore.


CEO of Rakennus-Hanka, Ilpo Vakkuri, explained that there will be two plots in the area – a total of 75 semi-detached and terraced houses. This autumn, 18 residential units will be completed. The last of the houses will be finished by 2025.

Diffusion-protected pipes are a requirement


After the closure of the sawmill, the soil in this area was studied and restored thoroughly over a period of many years.
Some of the soil had been contaminated by chemicals used at the sawmill. For example, KY-5 was used to protect sawn timber against blue stain fungi – this use has been prohibited since the late 1980s.
After soil improvements, there were no longer any restrictions on the use of this area. However, the City of Oulu wanted to ensure a safe water supply – and has required the use of diffusion-protected pipes in the water supply network.
The Uponor Barrier PLUS pressure pipe system was launched three years ago. It is the first 100% plastic pressure pipe system that makes it possible to safely build potable water lines in high-risk areas and contaminated soil. The durable Barrier PLUS pipes feature a seamless and non-permeable polymer layer structure that protects potable water against hazardous substances, taste and smell problems.
These flexible pipes are fast to install. They are suitable for both new construction and renovation and are fully compatible with standard PE potable water pipes.
Uponor is a familiar partner to Rakennus-Hanka and to Ilpo Vakkuri.  They’ve been working together for over 20 years. When Vakkuri heard about the Uponor Barrier PLUS pipes, it was decided to use them in this contract, despite Rakennus-Hanka having no previous experience of those pipes.


Smoothly and on schedule


Vakkuri says that the installation of Barrier PLUS pipes for the houses that are currently under construction has been almost completed. All in all, about one kilometre of pipes will be installed on Rakennus-Hanka’s plots. The project uses pipes with diameters of 40–63mm and the installation has proven to be easy and smooth.
Vakkuri explained that Rakennus-Hanka was able to borrow electrical welding equipment from Uponor for installing extensions and T-connectors. Uponor also provided guidance on pipe wrap installation and good clear instructions that made the work easy.
Barrier PLUS wraps ensure perfectly tight and secure seams. The installation of one wrap takes 10–15 minutes. Once the plastic wrap has been wound around the protective jacket of the pipe, a shrink sleeve is heated over it to seal it tight. The wraps and shrink sleeves have been pre-dimensioned for the pipes, so there is no need to measure and cut them to size at the site.
In addition to Barrier PLUS pipes, Uponor has delivered sewer pipes and wells for the yard areas as well as water and sewer pipes for the residential units.
Vakkuri believes the installation work has gone well and to schedule. The installation of Barrier PLUS pipes will continue in the autumn.

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