Nordicum - Real Estate Annual Finland 2013 - Page 23

The new Jätkäsaari district provides striking visuals. Total Make-Over With focus on waterfront renaissance, Helsinki kicks-off a true transformation Helsinki is going full-speed into the future. Shifting the former freight port operations away from central city sites to a new eastern harbour in Vuosaari has opened the game for ambitious waterfront construction. As a result, the Daughter of the Baltic has now entered the biggest construction boom in the city’s history. Large areas are already under redevelopment, as residential and commercial and office construction is kicking off along the shores. A ccording to the City’s redevelopment strategy, the goal here is to create compact city sections. The development is carried out on the “mixed-use principle”: jobs are mixed with many types of housing for different income groups, to avoid segregation along income lines and long commutes. Perhaps most notable impact, however, will be felt in the downtown area. Project Director Marko Härkönen says that the appeal of the downtown is considerable as it is, and the new projects will help take the city to a new level: “For example, the new Finlandia Park will offer something for everyone – it will be a great place to spend some time and enjoy various events or just take in the unique atmosphere.” In addition to new construction, the City is taking care to pump some new blood into old downtown quarters which are full of historic atmosphere. As early as 1810, Johan Albrecht Ehrenström (1762–1847) set out to draw a plan with straight, wide streets placed on a geometric grid. The main buildings during the early years of the capital were designed by architect Carl Ludwig Engel (1778–1840). The result: Helsinki’s legendary Neo-Classical city centre. Finlandia Park Taking Shape Hidden Pearls Downtown Finlandia Park promises to be an “urban oasis” for residents and tourists alike – a key part of the city’s active core. The park is packed with cultural institutions of the highest calibre, such as the new Music Centre, Finlandia Hall congress and concert centre, the National Opera, the City Museum and Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art. A new wave of office construction is completing the picture, but a strong public element is maintained – even enforced. “The new centre library will be realised here,” Härkönen says, adding that the first phase of the architectural contest for the library has already been completed and the final winner will be declared in the summer 2013. Over the years, the activity has moved westwards from the Senate Square and Market Square which used to be the traditional heart of the city. Härkönen comments that in the process some “real pearls” may have been overlooked. “We are now in the process of re-energising the old quarters, bringing some life back into these neighbourhoods.” The key word here is “walkability”: the traditional city quarters are very much human-scale, allowing pedestrian adventures in a seaside environment. Linking with this strategy, the City organised an open international ideas competition in 2011 in order to envision how to best develop Helsinki’s South Harbour. Over Nordicum 21