Architecture / Design
83,000 sqm extension to maritime downtown area wins Helsinki design competition
Also aiming to improve the area’s microclimate and create bio-diverse habitats with rooftops featuring beehives, vegetable, and herb gardens.
29 Nov 2022

Home to approximately 650,000 people (with more than 1.5 million inhabitants living in the wider metropolitan area), Helsinki has followed up its tradition to employ design competitions to revitalise and create new public spaces. The latest one, for the Makasiiniranta area, attracted international attention when launched in May 2021 and after four finalists were announced in March this year, Helsinki residents submitted more than 2,000 comments in the two public consultation stages of the competition.

The site includes several historic buildings, such as the Old Market Hall, the Olympia Terminal, and the Satamatalo building, as well as the new museum of architecture and design (for which a separate design competition will be held). The competitors were tasked to develop and renew them through respectful preservation, using climate-smart and sustainable construction methods in keeping with the city’s carbon-neutral targets.


The winning proposal, named Saaret (The Islands) and selected by a multidisciplinary evaluation jury, is to be delivered by a team called Konsortium Gran, which includes K2S Architects and White Arkitekter. It was selected for its architectural contribution to the cityscape, creating a new pedestrianised extension to Helsinki’s maritime downtown area and intended to become a culturally-intensive destination across 83,000 sqm. It’s set to include built spaces, gathering points, and urban nature with views across to the city and waterfront. It also aims to improve the area’s microclimate and create bio-diverse habitats with rooftops featuring beehives, vegetable, and herb gardens.

— Our main goal is to make Makasiiniranta a valuable maritime area for recreation for both locals and visitors, the Mayor of Helsinki, Juhana Vartiainen, states. The winner has a balanced functional concept. The restaurant, commercial and office premises, and the hotel included in the new construction and the cultural venues will make the area attractive. Makasiiniranta will become more closely connected to the city centre. The winning plan will make it a busy and pleasant maritime area on the shores of the South Harbour.

— It is an honour to be able to write a new narrative for such a vital part of the national landscape in Helsinki and this country of ours. I believe Makasiiniranta is a far bigger project than purely its footprint. It has the potential to revitalise the whole of downtown Helsinki, Mikko Summanen, partner at K2S Architects comments.