One of the main objectives of the new international architectural competition in the New Eliel project is to develop the area around Elielinaukio Square and Asema-aukio Square into a pleasant and functional environment for pedestrians and cyclists alike. When it comes to the number of pedestrians, the planning site is the busiest in Helsinki. However, in its current state, this prime location mainly acts as a bypass point and a traffic area. The aim of the project is to create a pedestrian area with a wide range of services, where both city dwellers and travellers can enjoy themselves, get together and engage in hobbies. The area will be transformed from an undefined, noisy and unsafe bypass area dominated by traffic into a pleasant and lively part of the pedestrian city centre, which will add to the appeal of the whole area.
The area being redeveloped is also a very central and easily accessible place for cyclists coming into the city centre. In the near future, the conditions for cycling in the immediate surrounding area will be further improved by the addition of a cycling tunnel that passes under the railway and more parking places for bicycles. The New Eliel project also improves flow and safety of cycling in the city centre as vehicle traffic is removed from the area and more space is added for clearer biking routes and additional parking places.
The organisation of the architectural competition has given rise to extensive discussion and many have recognised the challenge of this design task. For example, several of Helsinki’s significant buildings of particularly high historical value can be found in this area. For this reason, an international architectural competition of the highest level will be organised. The starting points for the competition have been set based on e.g. environmental history, construction history and the cityscape, but also the views given by city dwellers. The design principles have been set based on these considerations with a large group of experts.
We look forward to seeing the solutions that top design agencies come up with from these challenging starting points!