February 26, 2021

State-of-the-art architecture enables the emergence of new kind of urban life

by paula in Yleinen

State-of-the-art architecture enables the emergence of new kind of urban life


City planning is a very challenging and multidisciplinary field, which outcomes are seen in our daily lives. It is a topic which not only arouses passion but also broad public discussion. We asked the participants of the New Eliel architectural competition what is that particularly fascinates them about city planning.

One of the most inspiring aspects was clearly the possibility to make big, long-term, and positive changes when it comes to the functionality of a city. “The most enjoyable part of city planning is to have a chance to make big, long-term changes which make the cities better. Finding out, transforming and reusing the ignored parts and turning them into something new and innovative”, say the architects of JKMM. Klaas Hofman, the architect of the Dutch MVRDV, agrees. “I particularly enjoy the chance to make a positive impact to so many people’s lives.”

Enabling is the keyword of Snøhetta’s t design philosophy. “City planning is an act of opening up for possibilities by influencing, not forcing, the choices people make in an urban space”, Snøhetta’s team comments. “The best and most successful spaces broaden our choices, rather than limit them. This means that users can enjoy these places and feel empowered by the sense of individual freedom and choice.”

We also asked about the most memorable projects in which the competitors have participated before the New Eliel project. Their answers exuded the sense of gratification the designers feel when their ideas are realised and they contribute positively to the lives of the city residents.
As an example, the JKMM Architects name the Amos Rex project, in which an underused old traffic area was transformed into a cultural attraction in the very heart of Helsinki. “It is great to see how new urban life emerges via architecture.”

Snøhetta’s team mentions a couple of interesting examples about the ideology of enabling in practice. The sloping roof of the Oslo Opera House has been used for skiing, for example. The social space of the Ryerson Learning Centre became a popular spot for concerts and dancing among the students. “We always strive to create places where people feel comfortable and free to improvise.”

Klaas Hofman from MVRDV gives an interesting example of how the excellence of a plan can become visible until it is realised. “The facade of Rotterdam’s Art Depot, fully clad with mirrors, was first seen controversial with its park-like environment. However, as the building process progressed, the criticism was dispelled as people started to see how well the building actually fits into its environment: the mirror facade widens the park, sets off the horizon, and makes the building itself to almost disappear. Also, the open public space on the roof, which makes it possible to enjoy the urban panoramic view, has been popular.”

It is great to hear that the competitors are particularly enthusiastic about urban life, which comes into being through the successful design solutions. We are very much looking forward to the solutions of our accredited competitors in the beginning of March, when it is time to present the competition proposals.

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