This site presented us with a unique challenge: how to retain the open, wild character of the island which the local inhabitants obviously valued so dearly whilst at the same time providing productive spaces at a meaningful scale to support flexible and varied enterprises. The answer for us lay in the excavated profile of Laajasalontie itself. Rather than fill in or neutralise the power of that industrial infrastructure we thought why not celebrate it? The excavated ‘trough’ of the highway which generally sits lower than the natural ground level on either side presented the perfect opportunity to do 2 things:
- Provide productive space on an industrial scale to support marina enterprises and town centre commercial enterprises, along with all the necessary storage and freight logistics.
- Remove carparking and local road infrastructure and replace it with 2 centralised subterranean carparks fulfilling both residential and commercial needs.
These are both infrastuctures that require huge amounts of space on the ground plane, particularly when you include all the roads, driveways and garages, temporary parking bays etc. They also create noise and fumes, even at lower speeds. These requirements seemed to go against the character of Laajasalo as a collection of structures in a natural setting where people are free to roam. What if we were able to restitch the separated sides of Laajasalontie by laying a new form of infrastructure over the top, a platform that allowed a varied residential and commercial ‘hybrid layer’ to occur on top whilst allowing industry and parking to be tucked into a ‘productive layer’ below?