Bridging borders

Waterfronts have historically been the centre of activity for many cities. Often serving as the nodal points for transportation and trade, ports and harbours were lively and key to economic growth in their respective areas. Whether impacted by shifting shipping patterns, changes in governance or geographic challenges, many waterfronts have become inactive zones which divide the city from the water.

Initially founded on the island of Suensaari, TornioHarparanda was primarily a recognised a trade hub to the greater Lapland area. In more recent times the island has been adjoined to the Swedish mainland as large-scale developments reclaim the land.

The waterfront site has great potential to bring together the cities of Tornio and Harparanda but is currently underused. Although the site is now physically connected to the mainland, the E4 road disconnects pedestrian traffic from the waterfront and has created an ‘urban island’ diving the urban areas of Tornio and Harparanda.

Our proposal Bridging Borders looks to build upon and extend the existing geometries of both cities infrastructure and create an interactive urban park which can adapt to changing seasonal conditions. Our project seeks to ‘bridge the gap’ between national (Sweden/Finland), geographic (waterfront) and human (the E4) borders.

The project addresses an under-utilised site by introducing three key pieces of architecture. The Tower, The Curve and The Wedge act as nodal points within the masterplan drawing visitors from the urban areas of Tornio and Harparanda and the shopping centre. Each iconic form will house different activities and address their specific ‘border’ issues.

The project is an opportunity to transform one of the busiest highways in the region into a productive street. By integrating the busy road into the existing street pattern our proposal looks to break down barriers between the Tornio centre, the E4 and the waterfront.

The waterfront is reactivated through an expansion of piers and harbours aligned with the Tornio grid. These piers and harbours will house water related activities, specific to tourism opportunities and health and well-being.

In the summer the angled forms are spaces to take in the view of the area, to relax or to bathe (in sun or water). In the winter the landscapes will provide opportunities for snow sports, with a covered car park allowing people to park to access the site, and a bath house which will provide warmth within the northern context.