Nordicum - Real Estate Annual Finland 2014 - Page 33

Photo: ALA Architects Helsinki Unchained Helsinki seeks to reinvent the waterfront – and beyond The new Helsinki Central Library, the winning entry by the name of Käännös (Turn), submitted by ALA Architects. Bob Dylan had it right: The times they are a-changin’. Helsinki is in the middle of a transformation that is unprecedented in Finland – and noteworthy also on the international level. As all port operations exited from central city areas to a new location in eastern Vuosaari, the field opened up for ambitious waterfront construction. As a consequence, large areas are now under redevelopment: residential, commercial and office construction is kicking off along the shores. Beyond the shoreline, there is plenty of action as well, as the City is taking full advantage of also inland opportunities. A ccording to the City’s redevelopment strategy, the goal 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. Of course, the downtown area is not left to its own devices amidst all this change. Project Manager Marko Härkönen says that the downtown is quite attractive as it is, and the new projects will serve to add to the appeal: “We are renovating the city centre area, for example, around Keskuskatu street and gradually putting more and more of the maintenance and logistics functions underground, which is helpful in fighting congestion,” Härkönen says. Walk This Way Marko Härkönen talks about “increasing walkability” which means making sure that downtown is increasingly enjoyable from the pedestrian viewpoint. “We also want to encourage ‘temporary use’ practices which is evident, for example, in the upcoming Katajanokka carnival wheel,” Härkönen says, adding that various pop-up elements are a part of truly dynamic city scene. In addition, there is something really special cooking right in the heart of the city, just off the railway station and the new Music Centre. Last summer, the architectural competition for the new Helsinki Central Library finally came to its completion. All and all, there were 544 entries of high quality in the race. The winner? – An entry by the name of Käännös (Turn), submitted by ALA Architects. The jury described Käännös as “impressive and casually generous” and this seems to be exactly what the doctor ordered: an excellent starting point, when it comes to developing new kinds of library functions. Ready for the Party? Furthermore, the jury emphasised that the building – made, in part, out of wood – has every chance of becoming a true landmark. Käännös was also one of the public’s favourites. Härkönen comments that the building is a great fit for the downtown: “It’s the final piece of the Finlandia Park, so to speak,