HERNESAARI SNOW DUMPING PARK | Helsinki, Finland | Unit 21 | 2015
Awarded Distinction for Design & Distinction for Thesis
Hernesaari Snow Dumping Park
Helsinki has an average snowfall of two meters every winter, posing a major infrastructural challenge to the city. To keep the city functioning two thousand truckloads of snow are removed from the streets every day during the four months of winter. This adds up to two million cubic meters of snow. The snow is generally transported to one of Helsinki’s five snow dumping sites, where it is not uncommon to last until September.
Only one of the sites is located centrally in the city – on the Hernesaari peninsular. Hernesaari is an artificially created landmass that was constructed as an industrial neighbourhood extension to the harbour. Today most of the peninsula’s functions have become redundant and the area is scheduled for redevelopment. As a consequence of this the snow dumping site is becoming part of a new residential and urbanised area.
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Rather than turning the Hernesaari snow dumping site into a conventional park for the new residents the proposal “Hernesaari Snow Dumping Park” is an attempt at combining a hard piece of practical city infrastructure and a leisure facility: During the harsh Helsinki winters the park stores the snow collected and cleared from the city’s streets.
The park contains the basic facilities for doing so and also a number of programmable zones and a set of so called skeleton follies. The skeletons are designed to suggest one function during summer and in winter be augmentable with snow to serve another. Each winter it can be decided which follies to ‘activate’ and augment and thereby create a new constellation of programmes every year – all bound to the temporal nature of snow. It is in this way possible to re-imagine the park every winter according to the wishes of its users. To aid the imagination of how the park may be used a catalogue of events and structures is collated.
Amongst them are the ‘Nordic Games’ and ‘Thousand Lakes’ events as well as smaller interventions like the sail-in- and arctic cinema. The first of the two major events utilises all of the sites snow to create a ski jumping hill, cross country skiing course, ice hockey rink, various seating arrangements, judging pavilions, preparations grounds etc. During summer the melted snow that has flooded the grounds creates bathing and swimming pools of cleaned water.
Over the course of a year the park’s landscape changes dramatically. Shifting from solid to liquid in a hyper saturated reflection of the Finnish climate. In the summer the melted snow creates a wetland terrain with a completely different set of options that like the winter condition can be utilised in a number of different ways. The cyclical life and nature of the park offers an environment unique to the conditions of Helsinki and Finland as well as an area that can be modified, influenced and utilised by the inhabitants around it.