Thursday, January 24, 2008

011. Songlines.

Here is the entry from Team Helsinki for the Helsinki 2050 competition, from which your humble SuperSpatial team was formed.

[click on the images for larger-scale versions]

Called Songlines, we sought to create 6 urban corridors connecting regions across Helsinki, attempting to create sustainable communities that subverted the normal urban-peripheral dualism of most concentratic city plan. This model, with it's Central Business District, cultural centre and radial hub-and-spoke transportation system seemed to us a 19th and 20th Century pattern that had little relevance for the citizens of mid-21st century Helsinki.

So we sought to create mini-decentralised cities, areas of urban intensification in linear suburbs, each of which could possess unique characteristics due to special planning, tax or other regulations. Thus the Vantaa – Riipilä corridor (or 'songline') might have tax relaxtions which would attract high-tech business start-ups, while the Järvenpää – Mäntsälä zone would be declared petroleum free zone.

Our proposal went into the most depth along the Katajanokka - Vuosaari corridor, which we envisaged as a gateway to the city, focussed around a high-speed Helsinki-St. Petersburg 'Shinkansen'. This area is ripe for development to help meet the requirement for the amount of new housing that a growing city like Helsinki would need by 2050, as set out in the brief, but rather than use the proposed metro line as the engine of development, a well planned shuttle tram service would be cheaper and more environmentally friendly.

The area was an opportunitity to explore a number of housing and mixed use typologies

Our entry was placed a lowly 58 (out of 109 accepted entries), with the jury finding "an ironically made (e.g. bioterrorism courses for a prospective Sipoo university and a Christiana-type community in Kauniainen), incomplete entry, nevertheless featuring beautifully presented documents."

However, we can be proud that we produce something with such a limited resource which contained the germ of some genuinely good ideas that sparked some interesting debate.

Download our detailed proposal for Katajanokka - Vuosaari.
Download detailed_proposal.pdf (49.6K)

Download our 'helsinki vision' document
Download helsinki_vision.pdf (81.9K)

Friday, January 18, 2008

010. Emeralds shimmer in Helsinki.

Helsinki 2050 'Emeralds' proposal

The recent Greater Helsinki Vision 2050 ideas competition drew a large number of entries, and was an extremely well run and judged concours. With over €250,000 on offer in total prizemoney, it attracted some very polished and professional entries.

You can download a document with a thorough overview of all the entries here.

Helsinki 2050 'Emeralds' proposal

Helsinki 2050 'Emeralds' proposal

The winning entry, Emeralds, by WSP Finland is stunning. The basic concept of "green bays" of development form a urban tapestry which act as both a unifying element as well as a distinguishing feature. The rich, multi-disciplinary entry addresses issues that Helsinki will need to consider over the next 40 years social, spatial, transportation and infrastructure and presents a compelling, vivid, proposal - everything good architectural speculation should do.

TeamHelsinki, which both Lewis and Kosmograd were members of, managed to put an entry together, which while not matching the depth of thought and presentation quality of the top entries, nevertheless had some good ideas, and was a great way to stretch those flabby architectural muscles, so to speak.

As a whole, the Greater Helsinki Vision 2050 competition should serve as a benchmark for other architectural competitions to strive for.

Helsinki 2050 'Emeralds' proposal

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

009. Oslo Recoded

Oslo following many cities worldwide over the past two decades is redeveloping its waterfront, and rethinking the way it approaches the water, now that these areas are required less and less for industrial use. The area of Bjørvika, a no mans land behind Oslo's Central station is being redeveloped into a new city district. Barcode is the name of this small area of mainly office redevelopment, part of a greater regeneration of Oslo waterfront. Its a tight space for offices with Oslos planning limitations deliberatly changed for the area. Higher buildings are allowed, the tallest in Norway, and the planning law was aesthetically subverted too.

'This is the first plan in Norway where rules are not drawn up regarding each plot, but instead there are rules for how plots within a particular area should be designed in relation to each other. If we design a house with a flat roof, then the next house may not have a flat roof. If we design a glass building, the next house must use a different material.'

The Barcode masterplan was conceived by MVRDV in partnership with a-lab and Dark. Its interesting because the masterplan imposes change between each new building without defining a particular style, only that it be different from the last. It also uses a modern 'valueless' iconography of the barcode to impose some order instead of an architectural aesthetic a classic reworking of an MVRDV theme. I like that it reverses the normal planning rules and imposes non conformity with the neighbouring buildings to try to create a sense of urban life.

The first building in this new area designed by a-lab is the PWC building. Its nothing really special, and I'm wondering if there will really be any exciting Architecture in a relatively bland looking development so far, but the idea of a planning regime that imposes change but not style is really attractive.

Some more links:
Arkiteknytt (Norweigian Architects website)
OSU (The developer of Bjørvika)
Skyscrapercity (a thread with some great images of new developments generally in Oslo)