REINVENTING WINTER IN HELSINKI | Helsinki, Finland | Unit 21 | 2015
Awarded Merit for Design
Reinventing Winter in Helsinki
Helsinki has positioned at 60olatitude making it the third most northern capital in the world. Due to this the summer days are long with up to 19 and a half hours of daylight and temperatures up to 35oC.
Outside Helsinki is an archipelago with over 300 islands. In summer Helsinkiers go “Island hopping” in the islands of the archipelago. Events such as music and food festivals attract people, in particular the mid summer’s festival.
Summer on the islands also features many water sports, such as sailing, kayaking and spending time in holiday cottages. This island summertime culture creates a seasonal small multi centred city typography.
However in winter days are as short as six and a half hours, The Baltic Sea surrounding the archipelago freezes over for four months of the year. The archipelago is inaccessible. People remain indoors due to the lack of daylight, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and alcoholism are present in high numbers. Much of what is positive about Helsinki’s culture lies dormant for the winter.
Helsinki needs to reinvent its winter.
The first part of the project focuses on a proposed masterplan interject into existing Helsinki that recreates the multi centred culture of the archipelago, however accessible all year round. These centres will be located in current brownfield sites on the perimeter of a 500m circle with the main train station at the centre. There are 33 of these centres proposed, named catalyst zones.
Each catalyst zone will have highly salinated waters, lowing the freezing temperature and preventing them from freezing over. A non-freezing punting canal will link up these catalyst zones, as well as non-freezing sailing basins. These will reintroduce water activities, a huge part of Finish culture, throughout the winter when they are otherwise inaccessible.
Above the canal in the catalyst zone will be a synthetic daylighting area. This year round liquid state water and synthetic daylight will act a catalyst for development in that area and will aim to improve the environmental conditions in winter.
The second part of the project focuses on the buildings that occupy the catalyst zones and using sea ice profile data to generate the geometry that forms these buildings.
In the nearby Baltic Sea scientists have discovered there are repetitive sea ice profiles that relate to the percentage of salination in the sea bellow them. I have taken the hummock profile and translated this data into triangles with one arm measuring the figure if the ice thickness and the other arm measuring the corresponding thickness. The connecting arm is determined by the first two arm’s length.
I then considered the programmes and requirements of the buildings in the catalyst zone. Using the geometry formed by the sea ice data ice created rough models of each building.
The paper models were 3d scanned and these scans then developed into buildings and buildings skins in CAD.
The buildings included a salt factory, a drone coup to house and maintain the systemic daylighting drones, a sailing club house, ice skating centre and a range of shops, food and drink kiosks.
The project was a mixture of environment altering strategy and process driven design.