Urban Renewal course work (2009)

Deliverables: series of presentations.
A course with students from MIT (Massachusets Institute of Technology U.S.), TKK, and TAIK*. The test-bed was Kalasatama area, a former harbour and industrial area of 135 hectares, that will get transformed into a residential area for 18 000 inhabitants and 10 000 jobs.

PHASE I, IDEA GENERATION. How Technology applications could be used for the area? The resulting ideas ranged from sculptures that emit white noise, to energy harvesting facades  and to pavements that lights the user’s route – on-demand etc. The concepts were created with the means of scenarios working. PHASE II-III, SERVICES: We were asked to develop a “kick start concept” for the area. A Service Consumption Loop divides the area in service clusters. Arts and Gastronomy activities exist at the area already, and should be treated as the locomotives of the development. PHASE IV, SPACE TYPES: The outcome was three  urban space concepts – Pits, Verticals and Cavities – that offer the users different opportunities to use the area. These spatial modules reside within and complement larger entities. They were my answer to the lack of mixed-use planning in Helsinki, where buildings tend to have one main function which leads to lots of vacant hours. They include one or more elements that constitute “the sense of place”: form (scale, landmarks, permeability), activity  (i.e. street watching, cafe culture) and image (sensory experience, associations, symbolism, memory).

“Pits” are small, short-term urban underground lodges, situated in public parks, for example for visiting scholars, artists or students, or organizing small meetings or events. Landscaped as small bumps, or hills, the slopes of these underground cabins are great for sun bathing, reading, picnicing, cycling, sledges, or excercising dogs and people alike! The rolling forms enliven otherwise flat Kalasatama landscape.

“Verticals” are eg. luxury restaturants,  thin and narrow stack of booths for romatic dining. The result is an animated facade, whose look can be a mix of real-life objects and customers, and image/video feed. Verticals can live up “mute buildings” or places that are not suitable for housing: parking towers, fire walls etc.

“Cavities” are the voids inside building blocks. Being part of pedestrian network, they animate office blocks outside office hours. Possible purposes for animating court yards include shops, restaurants, allotment gardens,  kindergartens or playgrounds. This concept was not fully explored simply because one day the course ended!

The course was a good recap of fast concept generation and selling own ideas.

* TKK=Former Technical University of Helsinki, TAIK=Former University of Art and Design Helsinki, today the Aalto University through a merger.


Below: Pictures 1: WSketch, a white noise (silence) emitting sculpture. Picture 2: Service Consumption Loop. Pictures 3-10: proposed space types.