Location: Makariiniranta, Helsinki

Type: international competition

Status: second prize

Year: 2022

Organizer: City of Helsinki

Design: landscape design Nomaji Landscape Architects; architecture design Anttinen Oiva Architects; additional cooperation Design agency Amerikka and Sitowise

In the design competition organized by the city of Helsinki, a viable development solution was sought for the development of the Makasiinranta area located in the south harbor. The competition was decided in November 2022. Our proposal Makasiinipromenadi won the second prize in the competition. The proposal was prepared together with Anttinen Oiva Architects, design agency Amerikka and Sitowise. Nomaji was responsible for the landscape design of the proposal.

Helsinki South Harbour and the competition site area are one of the most iconic landscapes of Finland, and the most iconic one in Helsinki. the core idea of Makasiinipromenadi is an open and accessible green urban waterfront intended for both city dwellers and visitors, where services, entertainment and culture flourish. Makasiinipromenadi draws from Helsinki’s strenghts, the sea and archipelago, history and the city’s characteristics. It creates a missing part of Helsinki’s coastal route and offers a new kind of opportunity for a seaside as a whole, starting with increasing urban greenery, circular economy solutions and consideration of different user groups.

The firmly aligned docks are an essential part of the harbour history of the site. The new promenade section, builds on this identity reconnecting the old Market Hall to the old harbour buildings. The new waterfront and the promenade thus act as a connecting gesture not only for flows of people, but also visually and spatially to the city’s historic waterfront. Tree lined promenade is a classical and strong visual and spatial element that emphasizes the seaside route and creates a distinct character for it. Combined with the open seafront plaza the area provides a unique and attractive public leisure area. The trees create protection from wind and sun and give the seafront certain dignity required at this kind of iconic site.

As one of the key themes of our concept, emphaty reflects our approach and appreciation of the cultural historical values of the site and the historical Helsinki. Furthermore, it’s also empathy towards the environment, the Baltic Sea and the citizens of Helsinki. The historically valuable and iconic views and cityscapes of the site were the starting point and a key defining factor for the design of Makasiinipromenadi. No important historical view or visual point of orientation is blocked, even if often they are provided with a new framework. Makasiinipromenadi is open, inviting and inspiring – quiet, calm and peaceful. It recognises the value of the past, and re-develops a key part of the iconic historic landscape of Helsinki opening towards the sea in a harmonious way. At the same time, it creates a vibrant new area in the heart of the city.

The terrace zone, paved promenade with furniture and Makasiini Dock open space with the steps gradually leading to the sea are distinct from each other, serving their own purpose. Towards south Makasiini dock shifts greener and more relaxed. Children can enjoy the playscape surrounded by slightly lifted coastal meadow plantings while adults take rest on the unique wooden furniture. The space is designed to host events throughout the year and during winter season Makasiini docks extend to the harbour’s security zone.

The choice of materials reflects the competition area’s seaside charm as well as the more industrial feel of the port area. The outdoor areas will feature the same distinctive, red-tinged peddle and cobble stone finishes as seen in other parts of the Empire-style city centre. The aim is to create a beautiful and timeless play of granite paving stones that will in the future stand as witnesses to as many footsteps as the old stones of the city centre have in the past. Natural stone is complemented by the use of wood, which evokes warmth and softness and creates another link to the historical materiality of the site.

At Makasiinipromenadi, sustainability is not just about construction methods or carbon neutrality targets. It is integrated into every aspect of the proposal, from the flexibly designed features to the urban greenspaces that enhance local biodiversity. According to the Jury Report, Makasiinipromenadi was of the highest quality of the proposals in terms of a climate-smart solution.