The City of Helsinki has launched an international competition to remasterplan the central market square in Töölöntori (Deadline: 11 October)
The competition seeks proposals to rethink the historic plaza, which is due to receive an underground train station as part of a planned extension to the Helsinki Metro. The square is currently half used for parking and half for market stalls.
The project aims to revitalise the marketplace and create a high-quality central public space for the rapidly growing district 3km north of central Helsinki. Proposals to manage vehicle, pedestrian and bicycle access and parking will also be required.
Töölöntori market square, Helsinki
In its brief, the city says it is looking for ‘new ideas and solutions to underpin the implementation of the area, functional development and improvement of the business environment and find viable solutions as a basis for further planning’.
It adds that it ‘aims to conclude a design contract with the area for further planning with the winner or one of the winners. If there are several winners, negotiate with all of them’.
Helsinki is Finland’s most populous city with more than 640,000 residents. The city and surrounding region are a major tech hub featuring many globally leading businesses including consumer electronics giant Nokia.
Anttinen Oiva Arkkitehdit won a contest in 2017 for a mixed-use development around a new tram depot on Helsinki’s eastern fringe.
In 2016, the city ditched competition-winning plans by Paris-based Moreau Kusunoki Architects for a £110 million Guggenheim Museum in the nearby South Harbour.
The overall winner in the latest competition will receive €25,000 and there will also be a second prize of €10,000, third prize of €8,000, and honorable mention prize of €5,000. Applications may be in Finnish, Swedish or English.
How to apply
The deadline for applications is 3pm local time, 11 October
The City of Helsinki
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
View the contract notice for more information
Q&A with Aino Leskinen and Crista Toivola
The City of Helsinki’s landscape architect and architect discuss their ambitions for the competition
Why are your holding an international contest to revitalise Töölöntori market square in Helsinki?
Töölöntori is located in the heart of a culturally and historically valuable and developing city district. However, its potential is not currently being harnessed nearly as well as it could be, and the square looks more like a parking area than an interesting market square. The contest is an opportunity to bring in a wide selection of good and varied ideas for developing the area. The contest is also a good way to stimulate public discussion on the future of the area.
In Finland, we have a long tradition of organising architectural competitions to solve challenging planning tasks. The competitions also offer young talent an opportunity to emerge, and we have good experiences with this.
What is your vision for the new town square?
We would like to make Töölöntori into a vibrant and comfortable meeting place for all our residents. Our hope is that bustling marketplace activities will return to Töölö and the actual square and surrounding ground-floor business premises will form a spatial and functional whole where running errands can be done with ease and business premises can connect to the market square.
The surface area of the contest site is approximately 12 hectares. The site is bordered by the façades of the buildings around the square. The focus of the contest is on drawing up plans for Töölöntori, but the transport intersection in the western part of the site is an important part of the overall entity. The blocks near the market square are also being examined because we want Töölöntori to be easily and naturally accessible from different directions and with different means of transport as well as being more tightly connected to the route network through the area. Currently, the area contains lots of car parking spaces, but we wish to reduce the number of spaces available, even though this may not be popular with everyone. Construction that supports the square’s functions can also be suggested, but the nature of the square must remain square-like.
The solution’s architectural and landscape architectural appearance as well as attractiveness and functionality from the perspective of market trade and other business operations are important evaluation criteria. Paying attention to the values and characteristics of the built cultural environment is also essential. Taking the perspective of sustainability into account in all solutions is intrinsically desirable these days.
What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?
The contest is public and open to everyone. We hope the entries will represent expertise in architecture, landscape architecture and traffic planning. In addition to this, we’d like to see expertise regarding, for example, market trading, event operations or business. International participants do not necessarily need to collaborate with local design agencies to participate in the contest.
Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?
The jury will give a recommendation for further actions based on the results of the competition. The goal is to find parts to implement, which will progress to further planning through detailed planning and more specific plans. The goal is to sign a contract for a further commission with the team that creates the winning entry.
Are there any other recent market square regeneration projects you have been impressed by?
One example of recent public realm success in Helsinki is the Lasipalatsi event square completed in August 2018. The rolling square on the roof of the Amos Rex art museum is located right in the centre of Helsinki. The residents of Helsinki put the square into active use right after it was completed. The Amos Rex art museum and the square were designed by JKMM Architects.
The City of Tampere has successfully developed Vuolteentori square along the rapids in the centre of Tampere. An idea competition for the development of the square was held in 2014. The competition sought a new look for the area, taking into consideration pedestrians, leisure activities, the needs of the terraces and the unique location near the national landscape of the Tammerkoski rapids. The renovation of the square was completed in 2017 in accordance with the plans of Näkymä, which won the competition.
08 toolontori viistoilmakuva 2014 lounaasta