Mikkeli, Finland

The Satamalahti area is defined by the historical urban grid of Mikkeli but its proximity to the waterfront is compromised by rail and road infrastructure that served former industries. The resulting landscape has been segmented with the creation of disconnected parcels of land defined by Areas 1-4. The requirement for Satamalahti is to reconnect Areas 1-4 with a masterplan which utilices the existing urban infrastructure and prodigious natural assets of the area to achieve pragmatic and economically viable development.
There are many global precedents for waterside development including Largo to Com, Italy or Rio de Janeiro, Brazil but the regeneration of the Barcelona, waterfront for the 1992 Olympics demonstrates that Mikklei too can achieve a self-supporting high quality public realm which supports tourism, business and residential development. 

The Water Garden City
The concept for the masterplan is based on the idea of creating urban development integrated with nature in a way similar to Ebenezer Howard’s Garden City of 1898. What Howard proposed, was a city composed of concentric rings of development with parks and green spaces at the heart of the scheme.
For Satamalahti, we propose a ‘Water Garden City’ with development in concentric rings centred on the lake. The first ring will be the lake itself; the second ring will be a continuous park around the lake which connects areas 1-4. The third ring will be the urban development of areas 1-4 and the fourth ring will be connections into the existing urban fabric of Mikkeli.


Area 1
Area 1 is developed in two parts. To the north of the Science Centre [Area 1B], we have placed the main residential development which is set above a single story landscaped podium with ground level car parking. The front and sides of the podium accommodate commercial and service space which will animate the park and lakeside areas. Building volumes are generally between 4-8 stories high and the massing has been laid out to provide good views to lake and park to the east whilst reducing as far as possible overshadowing. The layout of residential blocks provides a transition from public space along the lakefront, to semi-public space including piazzas and squares at ground level at the base of the podium. Additional gardens are also provided at first floor level on top of the podium which will be used primarily by residents. Private outdoor space will be provided such as balconies, terraces and rooftop gardens for individual residential units or for shared communal use. The area to the south of the Science Centre [Area 1A] is a mixed commercial and residential area. The mixed use typology places commercial space and service space at ground with residential accommodation above. The typology ensures that Area 1A will be lively both day and night in a way similar to the downtown area of Barcelona and other waterfront cities. Area 1A including the Science Centre will be accessed directly from ground level to provide a direct connection to the park and lake.

The Event Piazza
The area in front of the Science Centre and Marina will form a new urban piazza for Mikkeli. The piazza is laid out for flexible use – supporting a range of civic functions including public concerts and spectacles.


The Science Centre and Customs Building
The Science Centre is located centrally on the site in Area 1A and close to existing bridge connections and nearby former Customs Building and the pier. Between the Science Centre and the former Customs Building we have created a large piazza to be used for outdoor events including concerts, festival and other civic functions. The piazza is laid out as a flexible urban space free of built intervention to provide panoramic views of the waterfront. The Science Centre is approximately 14,000 m2 and developed on five floors.  The Science Centre also has a number of terraces at various levels which overlook the waterfront.

Urban Grain
The urban grain of the development particularly in Area 1 and 2 is an extension of the Mikkeli urban grid. In Areas 3 and 4, the axis for the development has been changed to provide good views to the lake area and park from all residential blocks. The urban grain provides a scale for the development which creates public, semi public and private space to the required density whilst ensuring porosity and movement. 

The overall parking proposal places cars at the rear of development to create a pedestrian and cycle-friendly zone looking towards the park and lake. The parking strategy provides a mixture of three solutions:
- Uncovered street level parking in all areas to the rear of site close to the railway or road
- Covered parking placed in a ground level podium with residential accommodation above
- Basement parking limited to a small area close to Science Centre.