Carving Wood and Water

Mikkeli Waterfront

Mikkeli Waterfront Finland

Mikkeli Waterfront Finland

Mikkeli Waterfront Finland

Mikkeli Waterfront Finland

the essence

Reconnecting Mikkeli

The focus in this competition entry is on new connections: between the city centre and Satamalahti, between Savilahti bay and Lake Saimaa, and between the different urban districts spread out around the lake. These connections are not just visual, but also physical and psychological, and are realised by, as the title of our entry proclaimed, ‘carving wood and water’. As befits a city known for its woodcarving industry and for its location on one of Finland’s largest lakes.

The strategy

Carving wood and water

One of the most important interventions is the softening of the barrier formed by the railway track. Another is the creation of more water surface, to reconnect Savilahti bay to Lake Saimaa. This produces new vistas and wide panoramas, under or across the railway line in the direction of the lake. To achieve this effectively, the water line is moved to set the motorway free from the land, crossing a new bridge. A new hill is erected with material from the build. This hill has a significant impact on the relationship between city and lake. Because it hides part of the motorway (sight and sound!) behind trees, instead of cars the view is drawn towards the natural, green island. Quiet and serene, only accessible by boat, or in winter, across the ice.

the approach

City balcony and life on green shores

To match the city’s outskirts closeness to nature, the inner city ‘leaps’ across the railroad track and transforms abandoned quays into a new and lively waterfront in the middle of the natural landscape. The area is designed as a city balcony, free of traffic: an wide wooden deck with beautiful views across the lake. The new Science Centre is a catalyst for the Satamalahti waterfront and tempts residents and visitors back to the Mikkeli quaysides. The balcony can be used as boulevard, plaza and event terrain. Unique residential buildings complement the area.

The measurements

Smaller ecological footprint

Six measures have been introduced to decrease the ecological footprint of these new developments. First of all, the geomorphology and existing ecology are fully utilised. Water, reed land, park and woodland determine the look and are imbedded in the design. Secondly, public transport and slow traffic are stimulated. The highest building densities are positioned near the railway station and a recreative route is realised around the lake. Thirdly, Mikkeli’s locally produced wood is used in the building of residential houses and the city balcony. Fourthly, by intelligently stacking of functions, both below and above ground, most of the ground surface is available for public use. Fifthly, we use what is already there: existing historical buildings are repurposed, soil is reused. And finally, all water is prefiltered before it enters the lake, via a smart filter system in the parking zones.

Project data

Title: Mikkeli Waterfront; Carving Wood and Water

Location: Mikkeli Satamalahti, Finland

Size: 128 ha

Client: City of Mikkeli

Cooperation: SVP Architectuur en Stedenbouw

Duration: 2012

Type: masterplan, design competition

Image credits: BoschSlabbers, SVP

Project code: HS12-10