The City of Helsinki has worked with citizens, stakeholders and various experts in the city to prepare a vision for the city centre, elaborating on the masterplan and laying the foundation for land-use and traffic planning in the central business district and inner city area. The city centre vision sets out the policies for the development of the city centre, among other things, to steer the progress of individual projects towards a coherent outcome. These policies also form the basis for the goals and design principles of the New Eliel project.
The vision calls for the central core of Helsinki to be recognised as Finland’s most important business hub and an area of prime demand for business premises. The city centre’s accessibility and area of influence will also be improved as the result of several sustainable mobility projects, which will increase the number of pedestrians in the city centre. Although the pandemic has given rise to uncertainty regarding the city centre’s vitality and commuting patterns, a clear view prevails in the real estate sector that the need for good office premises will not substantially change, despite the fact that remote working is likely to become more common. In terms of commercial activity, the presence of Finland’s most diverse offering ensures that the city centre will remain the most attractive place for shopping and services in the region when consumer behaviour normalises.
In order for the city centre to respond to the needs of the growing number of visitors over the long term and retain its position, it will need to undergo large-scale renewal and increase the availability of functions that serve different target groups. This, in turn, will require flexible new business premises. Indeed, one of the most significant objectives of the New Eliel project is to respond to the need for premises identified in the city centre vision and offer much-needed new locations for numerous companies, shops and services so that the city centre can continue to serve its expanding area of impact sustainably.
The city centre vision also guides the nature of mobility and the street space. The city centre is a vibrant, open and diverse place. The priority will be to make use of the street space and reduce the adverse effects of car traffic. A large pedestrian centre will increase social interaction and encourage people to be active, spend time outdoors and interact. The aforementioned policies form a solid foundation for the design principles of the New Eliel project, and when the competition proposals are presented in March, we are certain to see visions of a welcoming new pedestrian centre with a diverse service offering, where locals and tourists enjoy spending time, engage in hobbies, use services and go to work.