Helsinki South Harbour

The Helsinki City Planning Department is organising the international South Harbour ideas competition as part of the World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 programme. The entrants’ task is to create a comprehensive ideas plan for the South Harbour that can be used as a basis for the future development of the area.


For more than 300 years the South Harbour has been a border between land and water, the city and the natural landscape. As an entry point to Finland from the sea, the port has spread commerce along the shoreline. But as a place neighbouring the city center the harbour stimulated creation of public spaces with recreation facilities and cultural activities. However lively and attractive the space had become, the overlay of diverse functions led to spontaneous development of the area. Nowadays the South Harbour is rather disunifying (a margin), than connecting (a bridge). To provide a unity by reorganizing the space that the South Harbour provides is the main purpose. Construction of new buildings as well as demolition of the old ones is deliberately beyond the project.

Functions Brought Together

The site area of the South Harbour consists of four logically structured functional zones. The closed terminals area rests astride a port basin. Being the most noisy and non-public, it becomes the farthest zone from the city center. The parking lots (one-level on the East and three-level on the West) are made more space-saving serving as cushions between the terminals' closed space and the open space of the Market Square (on the East) and the Green Alley (on the West). The rest of the shoreline is a continuous public space, a smooth extension of the city center. The Market Square on the East is divided into three parts, the central of which is set under the shed for vendors from the Market Hall. As the oldest, thus the most historical building in Finland, the Market Hall becomes a place for art exhibitions and performance. It includes a walk-through passage with bars and cafes on one side, and art exposition behind the glass - on the other. The area along the shore made public provides many places with access to water.

Transport Flows Separated

Considering the growing passenger flows in the South Harbour, E12-E75 intersection on the East makes free transport transit a problem, especially in times of ship arrivals/departures. Also the intersection providing a roadway to the parking lots near the water cut a decent amount of space from the shoreline. In order to free that space and to solve the traffic overload problem, the transport flow to/from the Eastern terminals should be separated from the main traffic flow past the port. The passageway to the port could be organized through the Unionsgatan and Bernhardinkatu streets over Laivasillankatu highway leading right onto the third level of the parking lot.

Harbour Made Green

The cityscape-axis that is already formed by the Esplanadi Park is made longer and now envelopes the north-western part of the harbour. The linear regularity of the alley is disseminated by the Maze Park with the Havis Amanda in the center. The square behind the Maze serves as the departure place of route and cruise ships. The Green Alley on the Eastern shoreline of the harbour provides various entertainment facilities: a playground for children, man-sized chess, fountain, sculptures, bathhouses.

Activities vs Contemplation

The core of the South Harbour is a Helsinki Water Circle. It makes the area a unified whole with easy access from one zone to the other ñ either by bicycle or on foot. While the shoreline is abundant with activities, the Circle is an empty space for contemplation. It is a path for walking (or sitting on a bench) that offers picturesque views of the city. Rising 14m above the water level in its highest point it also makes a passage way for tourist ships.

Oleksiy Petrov
Iryna Miroshnykova
Dmytro Prutkin
Alice Magirovska
Anton Izhakevich
Vadim Sidash
Anna Dobrova
Victoria Lenchenko
Anton Prihod'ko

Program: Research, Master Plan
Site area: 252 685 sq.m.
Year: 2011

Program: Research, Master Plan
Site area: 252 685 sq.m.
Year: 2011

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