The property’s renovation budget is close to the original construction cost.

Exterior of Mäntyniemi, concrete house in winter.

Image: Silja Viitala / Yle

Costs to renovate the Finnish president’s official residence in Helsinki, which is set to begin next month, will reach an estimated 55 million euros.

Renovation of the concrete, glass and stone building known as Mäntyniemi will take about two years, but the price tag for the effort has raised eyebrows on social media.

The estimated cost was also surprised Asko Takalathe chair of the Finnish Association of Architects (Safa).

Exterior photo of the president's official residence Mäntyniemi.

Image: Toni Määttä / Yle

“Yes, I wondered about it myself — it raised my eyebrows,” he said, adding that the building’s renovation costs amount to as much as 25,000 euros per square meter.

“One wonder of course what [the renovation] might involve,” Takala said.

While the Office of the President did not agree to an interview about the renovation, it did share details about the costs by email.

It says that about half of the budget — around 27.5 million euros — will be spent on construction, including updating lifts, renovating the building at the property’s main gate, various modifications, road improvements as well as renovations of the building’s furniture and lighting.

Photo of a grey-haired man wearing a dark shirt and wearing glasses looking into the camera, with bookshelves in the background.

Asko Takala. Image: Grigory Vorobyev / Yle

Updating the facility’s security technology and new construction are also listed among the construction costs. The architectural association’s Takala said he thinks that a lot of the budget will go towards safety and security-related costs, even though they are not specified.

A projected 5.5 to 8.25 million euros will be spent on the project’s planning, construction and supervision. Up to 17.6 million euros is being budgeted for other costs, including heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.

Tasavallan presidentin virka-asunnon Mäntyniemen portti ja vartijan koppi lumisena talvi-iltana.

Mäntyniemi’s gated entrance. Image: Terhi Liimu / Yle

Takala said that by European standards, Mäntyniemi is the most modern head-of-state’s official residence and “stands out from the crowd”, adding that architects have long exchanged their opinions about the structure — as well as its costs — from the very beginning .

Construction of the residence — located in the capital’s seaside Meilahti villa area — was completed in 1993.

An aerial view of Mäntyniemi.

An aerial view of Mäntyniemi. Image: Jaani Lampinen / Yle

When it was first being planned, the idea was that Mäntyniemi’s square-meter construction costs should be similar to that of a single-family house. However its Finnish-markka costs multiplied to the equivalent of around 60 million euros — and the price increase caused quite a stir.

In a sense, the price of renovation is similar to what it costs to build, but in terms of normal higher quality construction, Takala said the budget is “in a class of its own”.

Architects Raili and Reima Pietilä were commissioned to design Mäntyniemi in 1984 after the pair won an open competition, according to the Finnish Architecture Navigator.

Tuleva tasavallan presidenti Alexander Stubb ja hänen puolisonsa Suzanne Innes-Stubb vierailivat Mäntyniemessä lounaalla.

(From right) President Sauli Niinistö walks alongside president-elect Alexander Stubb and his wife Suzanne Innes-Stubb, as well as Niinistö’s wife Jenni Haukio. for a lunch meeting at Mäntyniemi last week. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle

At the beginning of his first term, president-elect Alexander Stubb will live in the recently renovated government guest house in Helsinki’s nearby Munkkiniemi district.

Stubb, who won the election on February 11, will become the country’s 13th president and begin a six-year term on Friday.

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