A beautiful natural treasure at the heart of Helsinki is at risk of disappearing. Surrounded by vibrant cultural institutions, the naturally occurring Töölönlahti Bay is predicted to turn into a swamp before drying out completely—unless there’s an intervention. Danish architects COBE, Finnish Lundén Architecture, and marketing agency N2 unveiled their ambitious intervention to that challenge: a transformative urban park that can clean the polluted bay waters.
Töölönlahti Bay suffers from eutrophication, an over-enrichment of water by nutrients commonly caused by fertilizers and factory runoff, starting in the 1800s and persisting to this day due to low water circulation levels. The visionary proposal uses natural systems to clean the water, such as wetlands and other bio-remediation areas with pollutant-filtering plants. The new park encircling the waters would serve as a new green heart that unifies the two parts of Helsinki’s city center currently divided in two by the bay.
“We want to give Töölönlahti back to the people. Through a comprehensive and ambitious water purification plan, the currently polluted bay will become Helsinki’s main central urban space,” said Dan Stubbergaard, Founder and Creative Director of COBE. “A place where people from all over the city will swim in the water, sunbathe in the summer sun and drink evening coffee along the promenade. Like the purification of Copenhagen’s central harbor area at the end of the nineties, this could be a catalyst that begins a major revitalization of Helsinki. New public functions, restaurants, cafés, conference facilities, a hotel and housing will create an economic basis for implementing this grand vision.”
The park will also introduce new habitats for native fauna, stormwater retention areas, and an eco-education pavilion. New pedestrian and bicycle routes will connect the park and bay with surrounding neighborhoods. The proposed project covers an area of 40,000 square meters.
Images via COBE Architects