Urban Textures

… planning schemes are intended to generate rich and varied urban life, giving opportunities for fulfilment to individuals and communities alike.

Peter Davey, Helin Workshop, 2011

REDI, Kalasatama Centre

The harbour and industrial area of Sörnäinen, now Kalasatama (‘fish harbour’), began to be built in 1825, when the building by-laws of Helsinki ordered factories and workshops to be located on the outskirts of the city because of fire risk. Even a harbour railway was built there two years after the first railway in Finland, running between Helsinki and Hämeenlinna, started operation (1862). As the harbour extended, many nearby islands were joined to the mainland. The Suvilahti power plant designed by Selim A. Lindqvist became a permanent landmark of the area. In the 1970s, two other power plants replaced its function, and Suvilahti has since developed into a hub of urban culture. When the harbour operations were moved to Vuosaari, the Kalasatama area was vacated for residential use. In addition to Suvilahti, historical layers are found in the nearby Teurastamo (‘slaughterhouse’) area: the buildings dating back to the 1930s originally housed the slaughter service of the city of Helsinki but now contain a centre of culinary culture.

Kamppi Centre / UK Block: Office Buildings and Shopping Mall

The area of the present Kamppi Centre was used as a military training field already during the Swedish era, from the 17th century on. It was later used by the Russian imperial army and a garrison was set up in the area. In 1833 they built the Turku Barracks, which, with the exception of a utility building, were badly damaged and partly destroyed during the Finnish Civil War in 1918. In 1936 the Glass Palace building (Lasipalatsi) designed by the young architects Niilo Kokko, Viljo Rewell and Heimo Riihimäki was built on the site of the ruins. It was meant to be a temporary structure serving the Olympics of 1940. The former training field was occupied by the arrival and departure platforms of buses from the 1930s to the early 2000s, while other terminal functions were located in the utility building of the Turku Barracks. The Glass Palace was preserved and renovated in 1998. The rock on the south-eastern side of the training field was an area of market stalls and warehouses from the 1870s to 1929.

Sello District Centre

Leppävaara is one of the five regional centres of the City of Espoo. Built in the core of the area in three phases, Sello combines and interlaces the functions of a traditional city centre: cultural services, shopping, dwelling and workplaces. Sello is part of the surrounding urban structure and at the same time its focus. With the adjoining public transport terminals, it is also the hub of a wide sphere of influence that extends over the city boundaries.

Skanssi District Centre

The project for the Skanssi district centre started after a design-build competition organised by the City of Turku in 2003. In order to improve the service structure of the new Skanssi neighbourhood that was being detail planned and simultaneously of the whole eastern city, a block area had been reserved in the component master plan for urban centre functions situated along good transport routes and near new workplace areas.


The premises of the Verkkokauppa.com online retail shop are situated between a former customs terminal built in 1972 and the Pacific office building designed by Helin & Co for the Tallink Silja shipping company. Nearly 200,000 m³ in size, the shop, office and storage building was realised in just over a year. Because of the tight design and construction schedule the building was taken to use in phases. As the site covered two separate plots, it was necessary to have the detail plan revised. The City of Helsinki decision making bodies dealt with the matter smoothly, which helped in keeping the projected schedule.

Café Mattolaituri

Café Mattolaituri was built by the sea, near a former rug washing pier (hence the name) on the southern tip of Kaivopuisto park. It is open from spring to autumn. All customer places, totalling 200, are on two terraces: one on the shoreline in front of a little building, one on its roof. The building itself contains a bar and staff facilities.

Fornebu, Area Concept as Basis for Master Plan

In the 1990s it was decided that Oslo Airport be moved farther away from the city, to the Gardermoen area. Up to then the airport was situated on the Fornebu peninsula only five kilometres from the centre of Oslo. The removal vacated this peninsula for a large areal development project of the new millennium. The aim of the international planning competition held in 1998 was to find the best feasible plan to be used as the basis of master planning. The initial material provided by the municipality of Bærum was abundant: the qualities of the ground, surrounding nature, nature reserves, listed buildings, visibility of the airport history, sustainable development, sites of hazardous waste and areas of polluted ground, traffic, conflicting growth objectives of the three landowners (the Municipality of Bærum, the City of Oslo and the Kingdom of Norway) and lots of further data and factors were to be taken into account in the proposals. The aim was to create a concept for an area that would meet the needs of settling 20,000 workplaces and 20,000 inhabitants.

Hernesaari, Residential Area Concept

Hernesaari, an island in Helsinki once used as pasture land and a fishing base, was connected to the mainland by a causeway in the 1930s. In 1941, it was decided that the island would be used as a harbour, and it was connected by filling to Munkkisaari, an island that had already become part of the mainland earlier. Hernesaari served as an area of dockyard and industry for several decades.

Kakolanmäki Residential Area Concept

The imposing group of buildings on the Kakolanmäki hill in the heart of Turku dominates the townscape, when one approaches from the sea. Kakolanmäki is one of “the seven hills of Turku”, which C. L. Engel’s town plan of 1827 left unbuilt. In 1845–1853, a correctional facility representing the most advanced prison architecture of the time was built there, and several buildings were constructed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Kakolanmäki hill area with its buildings and parks is listed as a nationally significant cultural environment, and it is one of the most remarkable hill landscapes in Turku.