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Helsinki launches search for harbour development team

The City of Helsinki is seeking proposals for the redevelopment of the Finnish capital’s remaining undeveloped dock area in order to transform it for public use and has invited development consortiums to compete for the opportunity.

South Harbour is a central part of Helsinki’s maritime and national landscape but is currently an underutilised asset, the city authority said.

The development site, Makasiiniranta at South Harbour, comprises more than 83,000 sq m of waterfront land which is currently used for the port’s terminal operations and parking, which is to be relocated outside the city centre.

The city wants to merge and accommodate two museums – the Museum of Finnish Architecture and the Design Museum – on about 9,000 sq m. The remainder of the site can be used for other uses including a hotel, retail space, restaurants and walkable public realm.

The city authority said in a statement to launch the competition that in a culture in which every Helsinkian lives less than 10 kilometres from the sea, the harbour is a crucial characteristic and benefit of life in the city. “Access to the water is vitally significant for the population’s identity, wellbeing and vibrant lifestyle,” it stated.

Several buildings of historic value are located on the site and must be preserved, including the Old Market Hall, opened in 1889 and the oldest market hall in Finland, Satamatalo, and Olympia Terminal designed for the 1952 Summer Olympics.

The city said that the competition’s launch 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.”

Development consortiums have until 21 June 2021 to enrol as competitors, will submit plans for public exhibition by December and the four best entries will be selected early next year. The winner will be announced in Autumn 2022.

Rikhard Manninen, head of urban planning at The City of Helsinki, said: “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.”