Summary: The City of Helsinki announces a competition that invites proposals for the redevelopment of Makasiiniranta at South Harbour, the last old harbour area to be transformed for public use in Helsinki. The initial period for participant enrollment – intended for operators in the construction, architecture and real estate industry – covers a six week timeframe, open until 21 June 2021, with the inclusion of a new site for the design and architecture museum as a vital aspect of the land use plan along the city’s shoreline.
Launch: Development consortiums which have the technical, economic and functional experience to plan and implement a demanding and high-quality construction project are invited to register for the competition by 21 June.
Phase 1: Approved participants will submit a plan for the area as a competition entry under a pseudonym by December 2021. Entries will be placed on public display.
Phase 2: A selection of the four best entries will be chosen in early 2022 as evaluated by the multidisciplinary panel. In the second phase competitors will prepare a further developed planning entry.
Result: The winner will be announced in autumn 2022, to be granted a development reservation for further planning of the project.
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 10 kilometres 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 m of waterfront land is currently used for the Port’s terminal operations and parking, which is to be relocated from the city centre.
The launch of the design competition to develop Makasiiniranta at South Harbour 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. For an area of national significance and value for Helsinki, it is imperative that a land use plan for Makasiiniranta activates and enlivens the seafront, creating 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 to 9,000 sq m. Further leisure uses may also be planned for the waterfront destination, including a hotel, retail space, restaurants and walkable public realm.
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. 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.
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.
The winning design and implementation plan will be announced in autumn 2022, with the successful development and architecture consortium then responsible for the functional, economic and technical realisation of the concept in the subsequent years. A separate architecture competition for the design and architecture museum will be launched following the selection of a development partner to transform Makasiiniranta.
Jan Vapaavuori, Mayor of Helsinki, said: “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. 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.
Hanna Harris, Chief Design Officer at The City of Helsinki, added: “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. 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.”
Rikhard Manninen, Head of Urban Planning Division at The City of Helsinki, commented: “The Makasiiniranta competition follows recent years of strategic planning for Helsinki to develop the attractiveness and and vitality of the city centre, to enable a better urban life for residents and visitors. It is vital that this prime part of Helsinki and its access to the sea become a lively part of the city in future years and we are committed to realising plans for the site while upholding our carbon-neutral goals for the city.”
Kaarina Gould, Project Director for the new Architecture and Design Museum, said: “The creation of a culturally intensive site which is as centrally-located and nationally relevant as Makasiiniranta is a turning point for Helsinki. The last year has been a catalyst for the work that lies ahead for cultural institutions, and we are encouraged by support for the arts to carry forward this opportunity to realise a new district centred around the new architecture and design museum and Finland’s design legacy.”
For further information on the competition, including the competition criteria, please visit the website: https://makasiiniranta.hel.fi/
Registration information for the introductory webinar (27th May 2021) is available here: https://worksup.com/app#id=MAKASIINIRANTA