Helsinki South Harbour

Location: Helsinki, Finland
Client: City of Helsinki

Helsinki’s South Harbor is presently a working facility—a highly fragmented, disorienting tangle of streets, trolley lines, ferry queues, staging zones and restricted access areas comprising a limited-access water’s edge. Even the harbour’s most successful public facility, the Market, is dominated by automobile parking and servicing, leaving the public realm of the South Harbour a residual afterthought. Our proposal takes this existing situation and transforms it through six primary operations that place a priority on the harbour’s civic space:

  1. Vertically separate port service traffic (below) from local traffic (grade)
  2. Extend the city to the water
  3. Create continuous, legible public waterfront access
  4. Animate the waterfront through a collection of discrete landscape types
  5. Provide generous, over-scaled bespoke urban furnishing
  6. Anchor the new waterfront with four cultural icons.

Individually, these are not radical moves. Collectively, however, these operations create a complete reorientation and re-imagination of the role of the South Harbor within Helsinki. The result is a generous, active, spectacular public realm that takes advantage of Helsinki and Finlandʼs unique cultural, physiological, and climatic heritage to create a timeless environment that will become the cityʼs most recognizable and important public space.