Helsinki announces competition for “new cultural heart”

Helsinki has announced a design competition to masterplan a redevelopment of the Makasiiniranta waterfront district in the city’s South Harbour as a "new cultural heart" of the city.

Some 83,000 sq m of waterfront land is to be redeveloped in South Harbour, which the municipal government describes as a valuable yet under-used asset. At present, the land is used for the Port of Helsinki’s terminal operations and parking.

The new design will include an architecture and design museum, which will act as the centre of a new cultural hub, and will be assigned in a separate competition. The aim is to merge the Museum of Finnish Architecture and the Design Museum on a site that will be around 9,000 sq m.

Several historic buildings will also have to be accommodated within the masterplan. These include the Old Market Hall, which opened in 1889, and Olympia Terminal designed for the 1952 Summer Olympics.

The government is looking for entries from companies in the construction, architecture and real estate industries. Development consortiums with the wherewithal to plan and carry out "a demanding and high-quality construction project" are invited to register for the competition by 21 June.

Those approved by the competition jury of officials and design experts will then submit an entry under a pseudonym by December 2021. These will then be placed on public display.

In the second phase, beginning early next year, four entries will be chosen and evaluated by a multidisciplinary panel, with a winner announced in autumn 2022.

The press release for the competition notes that it 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 used in the future, with a newly-informed appreciation for the health effects of green and blue areas".

Other criteria for the entries are the empowerment of communities, the encouragement of pedestrians, helping the city to become carbon neutral by 2035 and the enlivenment of the seafront with "attractive new public realm, cultural amenities and architectural layers".

Jan Vapaavuori, Mayor of Helsinki, said: "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.

"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."  

For further information on the competition, including the competition criteria, click here.

Image: The South Harbour area (City of Helsinki)

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