The city of Helsinki is the endpoint of a vast network of transportation lines uniting settlements of an extensive urban region. In this expanded framework, a high accessibility node, such as the Pasila station, represents a precious occasion to preconfigure in close proximity a sustainable urban environment. Important structures such as the Messukeskus Trade Fair, the YLE Radio Ja tv-Keskus Broadcasting company headquarters, the future Töölö metro line, and the planned Pasila station expansion are all in the vicinity, therefore, confer to the dismissed railway yard the potentials as a perfect location for a high quality, densely built, urban renewal intervention.
The Master Plan for Central Pasila, approved in 2006, establishes a reference frame that lays out the overall urban land reclamation strategies; the Detailed Plan for the Tower Area on the existing bridge’s south side exemplifies the new urban pole factual and iconic core.
Public space sequences step fifteen meters down from bridge level to loft-like spaces renovated for artisans, cafes and shops, today a semi-circular train depot. On the west side, a main square connects Pasilankatu to the existing station. Accessed directly from the forthcoming metro line, through the future shopping centre extending along the bridge’s underside, a vital urban space directly links to the wider territory. Facing the square, a number of polygonal towers host services and offices on the lower floors and residential units on the upper ones, following a mixed-use settlements model based on pedestrian movement. The bases of the towers stretch out to embrace the public space and terraced gardens that step down gradually connecting the different levels.
The Pasila Quarter project provides the city planners with a new take off point for urban design by demonstrating how planned density placed at critical infrastructural nodes may be the main single factor helping human settlements to save precious natural resources, integrating social aspects, energy consumption, land use issues and material durability.
The goal to achieve is one: merge the new development with the existing topography through the formation of interlocking open spaces, which hold together the closed spaces. A number of simple rules and guidelines will guide in time the architectural development. Variety and cultural connotation abolish the supposed center city, dependency and encourage diversity that stimulates positive competitive conditions between the various townships and social cohesion in general.
In conclusion, the Master Plan conceptualizes the urban and architectural future of Central Pasila and the Tower Area Detailed Plan unites the often-separated issues of sustainability and urban quality, providing a new living landmark to the city.