Helsinki has announced a design competition focused on Makasiiniranta at South Harbour and is calling for entries that “activate and enliven” the seafront to create a new public realm.
The City of Helsinki has launched a competition inviting operators in the construction, architecture, and real estate industries to submit proposals for the redevelopment of Makasiiniranta at South Harbour.
City authorities want the plans to include a new site for the design and architecture museum as a vital aspect of the land use plan along the city’s shoreline.
South Harbour is a central part of Helsinki’s maritime and national landscape, and a valuable yet under-utilised asset for the city. In a culture in which every Helsinkian lives less than 10km from the sea, the harbour mentality is a crucial characteristic and benefit of life in the city, with access to the water credited as vitally significant for the population’s identity, wellbeing and vibrant lifestyle.
The designated development area of over 83,000 sq metres of waterfront land is currently used for the port’s terminal operations and parking, which is to be relocated from the city centre.
According to the City, the announcement of the design competition comes at a crucial time for global cities emerging from the pandemic as urban planners are challenged to strategically reimagine how public space will be best designed and utilised in the future, with a newly informed appreciation for the health effects of green and blue areas.
Helsinki’s existing relationship to liveable design is at the forefront of public services, urban environments, cultural spaces and the empowerment of communities, underpinned by a significant commitment to realising a sustainable urban structure and becoming carbon neutral by 2035.
“Every generation should have the opportunity to improve the city they live in, and the transformation of this final part of South Harbour will integrate the heart of the city with access to the sea and archipelago”
For an area of national significance and value for Helsinki, the City reports, it is imperative that a land use plan for Makasiiniranta activates and enlivens the seafront, creating a high-quality, attractive new public realm, cultural amenities and architectural layers, while better integrating into the pedestrianised city centre’s urban fabric and overall vision.
Intended as a new cultural heart of Helsinki, competition plans are to allow for the creation of an internationally prominent architecture and design museum complex, which will merge the two existing museums – the Museum of Finnish Architecture and the Design Museum – across an area tentatively set at 9,000 sq metres. Further leisure uses may also be planned for the waterfront destination, including a hotel, retail space, restaurants and walkable public realm.
“Cities evolve in response to cultural, societal, technological and economic shifts through time. Every generation should have the opportunity to improve the city they live in, and the transformation of this final part of South Harbour will integrate the heart of the city with access to the sea and archipelago, which are special characteristics of Helsinki’s identity,” said Jan Vapaavuori, mayor of Helsinki.
“As this global pandemic has upended how we use public spaces and facilities, it is an appropriate and important time to look ahead and create a long-term foundation for all future Helsinkians that makes best public use of a prime piece of the city’s seafront and to give it the prominence it deserves.”
The competition has been conceived with a number of planning principles stipulated to protect the character of the maritime facade and key sightlines within the city, including the Helsinki Cathedral and Uspenski Cathedral.
“We have the opportunity to reassess and redefine what our city and its residents need as the best possible conditions for urban life, offering a place that prioritises accessibility for all”
The competition area extends from the northern edge of the Market Square’s Cholera Basin to the south side of Olympia Terminal, following the old railway shaft to the northern corner of Kaivopuisto. Several buildings of significant conservation value are located within the planning area, including the Old Market Hall, the oldest market hall in Finland which opened in 1889, Satamatalo, and Olympia Terminal designed for the 1952 Summer Olympics, all of which are to be preserved and respectfully reconceived within the masterplan.
“This is a significant moment for urban development and the competition provides a canvas for new ideas, spatial uses, and design solutions that will improve the city of Helsinki on a long-term and sustainable basis,” added Hanna Harris, chief design officer at the City of Helsinki.
“We have the opportunity to reassess and redefine what our city and its residents need as the best possible conditions for urban life, offering a place that prioritises accessibility for all. High-quality architecture and well-planned public spaces are essential, and we look forward to uncovering new possibilities for our city that balance Helsinki’s rich cultural and national heritage with innovative new uses.”
The Makasiiniranta competition is being led by the City of Helsinki, with a multidisciplinary evaluation jury consisting of governmental representatives and impartial design experts, including Kees Christiaanse of KCAP.
Within the first phase of the competition, entrants will submit a plan by December 2021, which will be considered by the panel before a shortlist of the four best competitors will be invited as the second phase to prepare a full project masterplan by June 2022.
For further information on the competition, including the competition criteria, please visit: makasiiniranta.hel.fi
Registration information for the introductory webinar (27 May 2021) is available here: worksup.com/app#id=MAKASIINIRANTA
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