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Hakaniemenranta, Helsinki, Finland




22 ha


Open competition


Assignment completed


Helsinki Municipality


Patrick Verhoeven, Martin Arfalk, Alessandro Macaluso, Francesca Savio, Emilia Puotinen, Pia Kante, Cyril Pavlu, Katerina Vondrova

Hakaniemi Urban Code

A vision for a new urban water district

Helsinki has numerous connections to the water, from the open sea shores to the industrious harbours and the green bays. The waterfront of Helsinki has great variety, but is somewhat lacking a more urban condition. Hakaniemenranta offers through its narrow water conditions and the proximity of the urban fabric on both sides of the water the best conditions of urbanity by the water in the entire Helsinki. Our plan aims to decipher this urban code for Hakaniemi, where the water becomes the central element in a unique urban setting.


To accentuate and strengthen the urban water conditions of Hakaniemi, the first step of this transformation is the extending of the surrounding city grids towards the water. The northern city blocks and the southern park are approaching the water. A mere extension of the urban block structure towards the water would exclude a large part of the Hakaniemi waterfront from public access. By introducing a compelling combination of open, stepping down, lifted and floating block typologies, the new urban structure allows for open access through the entire Hakaniemi water front area. On the south side, the urban park is extended further down into the water.

The area is surrounded by important anchor points, such as the Hakaniemi square and market building, the ferry dock, the new car bridge and hotel. By adding one central pedestrian and cycle bridge, new loops are created within the Hakaniemi waterfront area that connect these anchor points and add new ones and bring the Hakaniemi, Merihaka and Kruununhaka districts closer to each other. These loops create a huge new urban potential for the Hakaniemi Waterfront.

Along the urban loops a unique sequence of public water spaces is created. These spaces step down to the water in various ways and activate the waterfront with a variety of functions in all seasons. In the northern part these water spaces are connected through the open block structure and it’s inviting patchwork of Finnish micro landscapes and in the southern part it’s the active urban park that steps into the water through light public structures. 

This results in a new and unique urban code for the Hakaniemi waterfront.

Hakaniemenranta: An unique urban water district in Helsinki

The surrounding grids extend towards the water

A variety of block typologies allows for open access through the waterfront area

A new bridge forms urban loops that connect to the surrounding districts

A varied sequence of public spaces is created on both sides along the urban water

The new and unique urban code for the Hakaniemi waterfront!

Open structure by the water

The two sides of the canal are designed with a strong relationship to each other and connecting the shore to the city through the sequence of public spaces.

Canal as part of the public space network

Winter view from the existing historical bridge over the activated frozen water.

The ferry dock

The ferry dock enables a continuous stream of people to and from the Hakaniemi waterfront and serves as an important connector within the various public loops.

The hotel steps

The design of the new hotel implies a public floor stepping down towards the water. These hotel steps become an integrated part of the public loops.

The lazy sun stairs

The hotel steps continue in lazy sun stairs that create perfect conditions for sunny lunch meetings. The sun stairs connect at the quay level to lively terraces and the network of Finnish micro landscapes.

The water terraces

The water terraces allow for meetings on the level of the water. They step up and down from quay level and connect again to the network of public pocket parks.

The courtyard harbour

The court yard harbour is a unique public water space within the lifted block. At the landing of the block a public terrace is situated with remarkable view over the Gulf of Finland.

The piers and floating gardens

A system of piers and floating gardens create a soft and permeable public structure reaching out into the Gulf of Finland.

The canal pools/skate rinks and the bridge

The extended water park ends in a structure of public floating pools that turn into ice rinks in the winter. The structure connects to a new pedestrian and bike bridge that offers a spectacular view on the urban waterfront.

The small boat harbour

The extension of the southern urban park towards the water lands in a water park through light public structures, featuring a small boat harbour and sports and harbour building.

Floating houses as addition to the diverse typology of the plan

The suspended block as a orientation point and the floating piers as a natural extension of the public space towards the water.

The perforated blocks

The perforated blocks blend into the existing urban structure, but add a certain permeability through the blocks and a balanced variety of material and typologies within the block. The main function within the blocks is housing, but part of the ground floors will have public functions.

The open blocks

The open blocks allow for complete public access to the water. Through a maze of public Finnish micro landscapes the area connects to the waterfront. The ground floor of the open blocks are programmed with commercial, office and other public functions, adding to the area’s public feeling. The open terraced blocks step down in height towards the water, allowing for water view and sun conditions for all apartments.

The lifted block

The lifted block functions as a new landmark where the Hakaniemi canal enters the Gulf of Finland (Suomenlahti). The small inner harbour and the corner restaurant create a unique new public water quality and allow for unblocked accessibility and views.

The floating blocks

The floating blocks is a structure of floating houses, gardens and green houses along long piers and small boat that create a soft edge towards the Gulf of Finland.

Diverse and accessible waterfront

New water district inviting to explore the new liveable waterfront of Helsinki.

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