Urban Design Competition
Oulu, Finland | 20,000 sq. m.
2017 London, UK
inspired by the values of regenerative urban environments and sharing culture our proposal brings a cosmopolitan new identity to Oulu, connected to global networks of information, people and technology, but still deeply rooted in the local climate, traditions, and lifestyle of the area. Taking advantage of the strategic location of the site, our proposal creates a new district that stitches together the innovation hubs of Oulu University and the technology village with the neighborhood of Kaijonharju, thus creating an attractive area for new residents to visit, live and work.From east to west, the proposal connects the residential area of Kaijonharju to the University of Oulu, through the new axis of Kalevalantie St, that becomes a lively, bike and pedestrian friendly corridor with retail, community and productive spaces. From North to South, the Green Rooms network preserves the ecological corridors that connect Kuivasjärvi and Pyykösjärvi lakes, while bringing mild leisure activities, thus balancing between the ecological and social networks of the area.
Faced with the task of planning a new community in one of the most challenging climates, the proposal turns the challenge into an opportunity and works with the unique characteristics of the area to define its strategy. The prevailing winds crossing the landscape are driving the grid rotation that protects the inhabitants, allowing them to comfortably walk on the streets, even during harsh conditions. The building envelopes have been calculated to guide sunlight into courtyards and streets, further enhancing the open area conditions and directly impacting the livability of the streetscape. In addition, the living systems necessary to keep the new city section afloat, are also decentralized and based on local scale. Innovative solutions like the Living Machines take care of the wastewater treatment by mimicking natural wetland cleansing functions that the lakes already operated for thousands of years. Through the unique grid design, the sun is tasked into providing for the local food production via a wide arrangement of greenhouses that can also operate with artificial lighting in winter, to ensure local, fresh and organically grown nourishment to the new inhabitants while incentivizing them to be a part of the new production chain.
The Oulu University has been the main instigator of its surrounding area and therefore the proposal area as well. With that in mind, the strategy was to re-create a community structure based on the Oulu student body characteristics and the local residents, as well as the future of conurbation. To bring inhabitants together, shared spaces are created to allow opportunities for collective activities and leisure, all the while being integrated with the local natural environment. This delicate balance between activity and nature preservation is handled through the creation the Green Rooms. These are essentially hubs of forest activation with distinct characters ranging from Performance Area (Cinema, Theater/Lecture Hall), Play Area (Playground for all ages) and Leisure Area (Saunas, Open air spaces for the summer morphing into ice skating grounds in the winter) as well as Lake activators allowing for better utilization of the coastal area. The old Shopping center has been infused into the majority of the new proposal allowing for a whole some activation of the area that can also be used as a social condenser, eliminating the need for the local inhabitants to service their needs away from it.