Snøhetta win competition for revitalize urban square by Helsinki’s historical railway station

Helsinki’s historical railway

The winning team for the architectural competition for Eliel and Asema Square in the Finnish capital was announced. With a mission to revitalize this central hub in downtown Helsinki, Snøhetta and local Finnish partners Davidsson Tarkela Oy and WSP won with their proposal “Klyyga”, translating to “the crossing” in local slang.

Reconnecting the two city grids with a vibrant new plaza and city block, the proposal will support the Helsinki urban strategy: To make the city center more vibrant and accelerate green mobility. The Klyyga concept is a system of crossings to reconnect city, landscape, and people to create a more dynamic and usable area west of the historical Helsinki Railway station.

The purpose of the design is to supplement, integrate and revitalize the urban fabric of the area, while adapting to the valuable surroundings, the city’s framework and building heights to create a porous new city block for indoor and outdoor activities.

The concept aims to add a new layer in the architectural history, building on what is and developing the area towards the future. The new city block includes the renowned historical Vltava building that is embedded in the new proposal.

The new identity for the architecture is both contemporary and adapting to its historical surroundings. It has a holistic concept for sustainability in both energy harvesting, material use, social sustainability, and green mobility. The building has a hybrid timber structure that is exposed to the warm interior, and the façade design is based on passive principles, allowing for generous daylight through the interior while blocking out direct sunlight to prevent overheating.

This also gives a characteristic vertical expression in warm granite and clear glass that communicates with the facades of the train station. The building will offer flexibility for different functions such as offices, a hotel, culture, shops, urban green and meeting places.

Ensuring a successful transformation to green mobility for pedestrians and cyclists were also key goals for the concept, as well as creating a universal cityscape that invites social interaction, openness, equality and future urban dynamics.

Jenny B. Osuldsen, partner and the lead architect from Snøhetta, elaborates: “With Klyyga, the Eliel and Asema square will clearly contribute to the city of Helsinki’s urban strategy. Revitalizing the area with new development, expanding the pedestrian areas with green mobility and urban programs, will make Eliel and Asema square a more vibrant, exciting destination as a place to go to and to stay, work or play in.” Source and images Courtesy of Snøhetta.