At the periphery of Helsinki city lies Laajasalonlahti:a sheltered bay where a 100 year-old pine forest gradually descends a slight slope before being met with the wetland rushes of the waters edge. On the eastern side of this ecologically significant site lies Laajasalontie:a car-dominated highway dividing Yliskylä town centre and suburbs in the east from the recreation opportunities of the western Laajasalonlahti. In the wake of new urban zoning schemes, including an urban boulevard and new proposed pedestrian and tram connections to Helsinki city centre, Laajasalontie has the opportunity to transform itself into a lively and distinctive urban boulevard.
PROPOSAL: LATERAL COALESCENCE
At the heart of this urban transformation, this scheme proposes two new harbourside precincts – Laajasalo Harbour Island and Marina Village which maximise density while conserving as much of Yliskylänlahti grove and the wetland environment as possible. This new harbourside development area seeks to increase connectivity between the town centre in the east with the harbour in the west by proposing two new connection axes. The first axis – Marina Vista Lane – acts an extension of the existing pier, connecting the new marina with proposed tram stop and plaza on the eastern side of the boulevard. The second axis – Park Boulevard – proposes an East–West ecological ‘green’ corridor connecting Reposalmi in the east with Yliskylänlahti forest in the west. New proposed mixed-use development along the Laajasalontie Boulevard extend from the intersection of these axes. Along these axes, a series of key public spaces are proposed. Through mixing both public and private functions, including productive living, working and playing spaces, this project envisages an active rejuvenated urban environment for Laajasalo.
In ecology – the ’ecotone’ or edge between two different environments is the most diverse, active part of an ecosystem. In this project, we apply the ‘ecotone’ concept to the urban landscape:the threshold between two different conditions. At a large scale, we consider the transition from town centre towards the harbour;at a smaller scale, the edge condition between waterfront building and sea, between community buildings and forest, or between boulevard facades and the street. Focus is placed on creating dynamic edge conditions concerning the waterfront,street terraces and forest views, with emphasis on accessibility to urban recreation spaces for all.