Approach to Private and Public issues
The urban environment is divided in two main dimensions: private spaces inside the buildings and public open spaces.
A third dimension which could be referred to as a “collective” dimension is then been proposed aside those two. Many services
usually hosted inside private houses (such as guest-rooms, saunas, spaces for fitness, laundries, spaces for parties and meetings,
etc) have been expanded throughout the buildings to a wider scale and scope, in order to be used and shared by the community
who is living in the building. Some of these functions are accessible from the outside as they are meant also to serve those coming
from the marina by boat and other people from the district or even, more generally, from the city. Private and collective dimensions
get more blurred, yet respecting individuality and privacy, .
The impossibility to host public functions at the ground floor of the buildings due to flood problems brought to give a primary
importance to the design of open spaces. Much of the liveliness, pleasantness and the “sense of place” of the site will rely mostly
on the character and amenity of the public spaces. The marina itself is conceived as a mixed place, strictly connected to the future
quarter, and contributes clearly to its complex identity.
The proposed form for the new quarter is based upon a few main leading design principles:
- Providing a strong relation between the quarter and the sea (and between the floating houses and the land houses). The layout finds its main and almost natural orientation relating both perpendicular to the shoreline and parallel to the existing blocks. The quarter can be either seen as raising from the sea or, vice versa, as tending towards the city centre in front of it.
- Providing a “reprise”, from an urban point of view, of the ordering rule of Kotka’s city centre, to which the new settlement is supposed to act as a sort of northern expansion. The proposed layout recalls the city centre, but is not based on blocks. Since the density and functions required for a right level of “urbanity” are far from being matched by those requested by the Competition Brief, the design approach is about making buildings and blocks coincide. The proposed grid seems also functional, for the ease of movement allowed, and for the strong built connections with the surroundings (especially with the existing blocks and green areas).
- Maintaining and emphasising the blurring character of the coastline. The layout has carefully avoided any gap between inland buildings and floating houses, which share the same ordering grid. So the jetties fade into the public stripes running through the buildings (and vice versa), while the waterfront constitutes the balance point between them. Similarly, a few public functions which are related to the marina activities are placed in the middle of the quarter, while other functions serving also the houses are hosted by the sea. The sense of blurring has been visually enhanced by the use of “lightboxes”, small architectures provided with light pacing the main routes through the quarter, especially along the jetties, where they give an impression of fading into the sea.
- Emphasising the changes of the urban landscape throughout the day and the seasons. The evident changing of Finnish environment through time has been an other inspiring design principle. A great care has been given to the visual change from daylight to dark, by the use of the lightboxes, which are also meant to sign the main pathways through the snow, during wintertime. When the sea freezes the quarter as a whole acts as a pedestrian bridge between the inland settlements of Hovinsaari and the city centre. The longitudinal orientation of the buildings makes the layout capable of relating either to the marina during summertime or to the northern settlements during wintertime.
- Creating a car-free environment for pedestrians and bikers. Nor the boats coming by sea (this is quite evident, yet) neither the cars coming from the street network are allowed to invade the new quarter’s public spaces. Two ports for cars are thus provided: one in parking lots at the northern entrance (The Gateway-square); one in a multi-storey car park at the Sea- Square node. Sheltered lockers for bikes are hosted inside some lightboxes throughout the quarter.
- Providing a functionally and socially mixed and complex environment. Different sizes of dwellings are designed to match a wide range of inhabitants, from singles to large families. The flats are quite flexible and variedly distributed throughout the buildings. Many collective functions have been provided and architecturally highlighted inside the buildings, while systems of ladders designed on the main façades provide a strong physical and symbolic link with the public spaces.