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Competition: Vantaa Aviopolis, Finland

The Finnish Association of Architects has announced an international ideas competition to masterplan a 15.6ha segment of a new airport city in Vantaa near Helsinki (Deadline: 28 April)

Backed by the City of Vantaa and local private landowners, the anonymous contest seeks ‘synergistic and innovative’ proposals for the new pedestrian-friendly mixed-use district as part of Vantaa’s airport city development, known as Aviopolis.

The phased masterplan, set to start on site in 2018, will deliver homes for approximately 3,000 residents, with new green spaces and around 20 per cent of its total area dedicated to employment. The brownfield site will also include a multipurpose building, Atomi, featuring a daycare school alongside other services, to be built by 2023.

Competition site

Competition site

According to the brief: ‘The objective of the architecture competition is to generate an ideas-level plan that will form the basis for the land use and detailed planning of the area, support the Aviapolis vision, and create a unique urban identity for the area.

‘The competition is an ideas competition, and will not lead to any commissions. The competition organisers nevertheless reserve the option to commission more specific further planning linked to the detailed plan or projects in the area.’

Vantaa, located within the Finnish Capital Region a short distance from Helsinki, Espoo, and Kauniainen, is the country’s fourth most populous settlement and home to its largest airport, Helsinki Airport.

The Aviopolis programme aims to deliver housing for 20,000 residents and opportunities for 60,000 new jobs on former industrial land surrounding the major hub airport. It coincides with plans to expand Helsinki Airport to handle 20 million passengers per year by 2020.

The competition site is near a busy highway and retail park around 1.5km from Aviapolis train station and 2.5km from the airport. It is currently home to a 1980s hotel and some low-rise commercial buildings.

Proposals will be assessed on their level of innovation, development potential and viability. Submissions will be expected to deliver a sustainable and community-focused development featuring urban blocks that enhance the surrounding area’s image, identity and cityscape.

The overall winner, set to be announced this summer, will receive £50,000, and there will also be a second prize of £26,000, third prize of £17,000 and two further prizes of £8,500.

The competition languages are English and Finnish.

How to apply


The deadline for submissions is 3pm local time, 28 April

Contact details

Mervi Savolainen
Competition secretary

Tel: +358 40 5423 096

View the contract notice for more information

Manchester Airport City case study: Q&A with Phil Doyle

The director of 5Plus Architects discusses lessons learned masterplanning a £650 million business district next to Manchester Airport, England

5Plus Architects

5Plus Architects

Phil Doyle

How did your Manchester Airport City masterplan create an appropriate blueprint for large-scale development close to an airport?

Airport City is a large project – it covers about 60ha – and will include new logistics, office, hotel and advanced manufacturing space as well as ancillary retail and leisure uses. Our masterplan is designed to cover a 20-to-30-year timescale, and so for a project of this scale, I’m not sure if blueprint is the right word. A masterplan should, I think, be a much more organic thing. As with all our masterplanning work we have sought to create a framework that is flexible; something that can adapt and change over time. Since commencing work on the scheme in 2008 we have gone from boom, then recession and back to boom again. The client structure has changed and markets have changed, bringing different priorities. I think our masterplan has proved robust enough to be able to respond to these internal and outside forces, delivering individual projects but with its vision remaining intact. We have held on to the notion of how you create a unique place – or even a place of many places (a city).

Manchester, England

Manchester, England

Manchester Airport City by 5Plus Architects

Which architectural, planning and other methods did you harness?

Our masterplan generally follows the principles set out in The Urban Design Compendium as developed by the UK’s Homes and Communities Agency. In adopting this ‘textbook’ approach we were able to develop a sound understanding of technical and town planning constraints whilst creating the right future urban structure and tackling the pertinent issues of implementation and phasing. Collaboration is also fundamental to a project of this scale. This collaboration starts with the client – listening to their needs, creating the right brief, and matching this with the objective work of the commercial agents and market demands; then turning that into a vision supported by a full range of engineering disciplines so that it works technically and commercially.

What advice would you have to participants on masterplanning an Aviopolis district for Vantaa in Finland?

Airports are generally pretty inhospitable places that have grown organically over time, based on economic drivers and a demand to process people and goods as securely and efficiently as possible. This means that even the best planned airports are generally about their infrastructure – their connections to the cities where they are located and the destinations they serve. A key task, therefore, in putting forward a masterplan for an Aviopolis district, would be to capture the benefits of any road, rail and aviation connections while mending the place and creating a destination in its own right, rather than somewhere that you simply move through … at speed. You would want participants to think about what the townscape is like and how the site interacts with surrounding neighbourhoods? You are creating a new city or town next to an airport rather than an aviopolis and so my advice would be to understand and explore what is the essence of Vantaa and how this is different, or similar, to anywhere else. Any masterplan whether it is next to an airport or within a city centre, is ultimately about creating a vision – an emotional response to a place.

Manchester, England

Manchester, England

Manchester Airport City by 5Plus Architects