Laajasalo has historically been an area of villas from the 50’s where local residents enjoyed a lifestyle connected to nature and water. The character of Laajasalo evolved in tandem with maritime life the way it was represented in the Belle Époque; today’s Laajasalo is the new active connected city part next to the sea. Laajasalo is to this day unique in the larger Helsinki area in offering opportunity to live in close proximity to a variety of maritime activities, public and private services, education and health, as well as outdoor opportunities in the woodland forest of the island.
Laajasalo is the embodiment of Sustainable Living: it is a place where one can live, work, and enjoy the mixed use opportunities of both city and nature. We provide a productivity-related context, where the existing landscape and its qualities, the views to and from the waterfront, and the need for new housing for the city of Helsinki and its growing population, are brought together in a multimodal, adaptable, and liveable way. This redevelopment for Laajasalo re-orientates the coming development towards the waterfront; introduces opportunities for mixed uses in all buildings; prioritizes shared space and pedestrian mobility; and weakens the automobile character of the boulevard by creating three axis to the waterfront.
Our design’s maritime theme exists in a variety of scales: upon entering the site with a car, bus or tram one first sees the masts of the sailing boats that are parked in the marina area; while one is walking around the island they have the feeling of connectedness of nature with the water and a clear feeling that one is on an island; with the great variety of trails and walks around the site one can get a series of views towards the waterfront and water experiences.
All parts of the production cycle are part of the urban fabric. Some examples are the seaside nurseries for oysters and kelp – the raw materials are refined in Laajasalo’s productive spaces and acquired for consumption by both restaurateurs and inhabitants alike. The waste is then taken care of by other parts of the productive network and brought back into the recycling loop as fertilizer and mulch.
As production becomes an integral part of people’s everyday life, a new connection and understanding is born. The proximity of the whole life-cycle of production gives people in Laajasalo a deeper understanding of the needs and patterns of transforming tangible inputs into a final product.