Archipelago Mobile, a master plan proposal by Kyung Jae Kim, Gregory Haley, Suah Na, Heejoo Shi, and Halley Tsai, attempts to address and enhance the city of Helsinki. Known as a city ‘in-between’, their design envisions a revitalized South Harbor district, configured to mediate between land and water uses, resident and tourist amenities, port traffic and pedestrian space. By weaving these often competing requirements together in ways that not only allow but enhance their co-existence, they present an integrated model for postindustrial waterfront development in general, and a unique vision for a dynamic cultural district in the heart of the city. More images and architects’ description after the break.
Planned as a port and stop over point, strategically located between Sweden and Russia, and ruled first by the former and then the latter – only to emerge as the capital of a new nation state in 1917, Helsinki was born as a city in-between. As a city sited within a rugged landscape of jagged coastlines, amidst an expansive Archipelago, it is also a place profoundly situated in-between land and sea. It is this in-between-ness of Helsinki, which the proposed Archipelago Mobile attempts to address and enhance.
The Path and the Archipelago
South Harbor has historically been central to the development of Helsinki and Finland, as a literal and symbolic gateway between the inland reaches of Finland and the outside world via the sea. Today its passenger terminals continue to ensure the importance of the harbor to the regional economy, but the cultural and public realm potentials of the harbor remain blocked by these same economic drivers. The proposed response to these challenges begins with a Path that is formed around and between the consolidated port terminals to create a continuous loop of public open space and transit routes connecting both sides of the harbor as a unified district.
The weaving of the Path simultaneously allows for a stitching of the waterfront and its activities with the surrounding city fabric at various points of tangency. On the south side of the Harbor the weaving outward of the path toward the water allows for an extension of Tahtitornin Vuori park over the roof of a combined port terminal, transit hub, and bio-mass plant, while on the North side of the harbor the outward bend of the path makes room for the extension of the city fabric in the form a new waterfront neighborhood dedicated to cultural production.
Along the edge of the Central Market, the path decks over the depressed traffic under Etelaranta and Phojoisesplanadi streets, to frame the historic market plaza with a contemporary green way that facilitates pedestrian access directly from the historic city center and the east end of the Esplanade. As the path engages with the waterfront edge, the bulkheads are modified to allow for the docking of programmed barges, that through their migrations become a mobile Archipelago that continually transforms South Harbor and connects the cultural activities of the city center to the various other harbors around the city and its archipelago. In combination, the Path and the Archipelago aim to extend public access from the city to the waterfront and to, in essence, multiply the waterfront by extending the waterfront experience into the water itself.
Great Helsinki Green Network
Emerging first as a port and stop over point between Europe and Russian, and then later with the onset of rail, as an entry point and gateway to greater Finland, the historical development of Helsinki, has from its inception been characterized by a dialogue between land and sea; between the inland forest, the rugged, rocky coastline, and a seemingly endless archipelago. Within this rich natural landscape, the urban form of Helsinki first emerged as a patchwork of gridded development arranged around south harbor and fit in between the rocky outcroppings, marshland, and meandering coastlines of the rugged surrounding landscape. At a regional scale this proposed public space extension is significant as South Harbor holds a unique potential to link Helsinki’s Central Park and “Helsinki Park” to the east, into a regional loop of green open space. Additionally, by means of the proposed Mobile Archipelago of barges that launch from South Harbor, the green finger parks of Helsinki can be physically and programmatically linked to Helsinki’s outer archipelago; once again, extending the Finnish landscape back to, and into, the sea.
History of Green Network
In between and at the fringes of this built form, green public space began to be formalized into parks beginning in the mid-19th century, resulting in such iconic public spaces as the Esplanade and Tahtitornin Vuori park. Over time, as the city fabric expanded and filled in around these open spaces larger scale metropolitan scale parks, such as the “Central park” were formed as captured “green fingers” stretching from the metropolitan hinterlands, and into the city center. As currently realized however, the finger of the Central park effectively ends in the city cultural park near the rail station. In response the proposed master plan calls for green space, streetscape, and other public realm improvements to extend the cultural park, via Mannerheim Vagen and the Esplanade, out to South Harbor, thus connecting the newly proposed cultural uses to the existing attractions of Helsinki.