Turku 2050 is an ambitious vision for the centre of Turku, Finland’s largest western city. It was conceived by Lundén Architecture Company in collaboration with a multidisciplinary city-initiated vision group. Drawing from its rich history, exceptional archipelago and advanced infrastructure, the project is centered around developing Turku into a globally significant city. The project aims to strengthen the attractiveness of the city centre as well as provide a concrete roadmap that will permanently improve the vitality, liveliness and comfort of the growing centre.
Location: Turku, Finland
Program: Urban plan
Status: 2016- Present
Client: City of Turku
Collaborators: City of Turku, University of Turku, Turku City Council and Board, Turku Chamber of Commerce, Stockmann Turku, National Union of University Students in Finland, Public Utility Property Management Board, Turun Osuuskauppa, Åbo Akademi University Foundation, Turku City Theatre, Virtanen-Yhtiöt Oy
Team: Eero Lundén, Maija Parviainen, Carmen Lee, Tuuli Loukola, Rubén Tomás Verde, Ron Aasholm, Xudong Yan
The city’s vision is rooted in its centre. Turku and its historic centre, intersected by the Aura River, has many unique strengths, but also a lot of untapped potential. The centre currently serves as the most important place for work, trade and culture in Western Finland. Competition between cities for investments and people have now expanded from a national to global level. By building on Turku’s unique identity and strengths, Turku is on its way to becoming a world-class global city.
The vision takes a human-centered approach to the development of the city centre as changing lifestyles increase demand for high quality public spaces. The human-based urban structure, which the best European cities enjoy, requires holistic design and a new kind of balance between different modes of movement. The city core should, as a rule, only be for pedestrians, bicycles and public transport. Regardless of the mode of travel, those arriving to the city should easily be able to reach its centre. This has been a strong starting point for the future-oriented plan. A human-friendly city is one that is liveable, economically strong and globally connected.
Expanding the Heart of Turku
Expanding the centre’s commercial heart and implementing a user-oriented transportation system are important parts of the vision, which aim to stimulate development and centralize investments. The existing structure of Turku’s core was heavily influenced by Carl Ludvig Engel’s grid plan, designed in the late 19th century. In recent years, increased car traffic and large commercial projects outside of the city have shifted activity away from the centre, and as a result, the city’s most attractive commercial centre has undergone little development.
In the vision, the commercial centre expands from the Market Square to the riverside and towards the harbour. The Market Square is transformed into a multipurpose meeting place and acts as a vibrant centre of events. One third of the square is converted into an urban park, breaking up the scale of the vast square and strengthening the connection to Turku’s historic Orthodox Church. The remaining two thirds of the square, enhanced with water features and permanent pavilions, remains open for the existing public market and various temporary events. The blocks surrounding the Market Square form a connected shopping centre network and can be developed to accommodate new businesses, offices and housing.
The accessibility within the centre is improved by streamlining the traffic and transport systems, and redefining the streetscape. The existing and congested transit hub around the Market Square will be distributed along the Eerikinkatu transit street. The new transit hubs will help revitalize multiple junctions in the centre and bring people to the expanded areas of the new core. In addition, the streets within the core will gradually be converted into pedestrian and bicycle routes based on international trends and successful urban cases. For example, Linnankatu, running from Vähätori to Martinsilta Bridge, will be transformed into a new pedestrian commercial and event street. Accessibility to the city centre for all modes remains unchanged, however to improve the attractiveness of the centre, car traffic is diverted to the ring roads.
Enlivening the Centre
As Turku’s core expands, different interventions have been proposed to improve the overall quality of life for its inhabitants. The Old Town will not only be an attractive tourist destination, but an urban living room by diversifying the range of services offered by and limiting traffic within the area. The large unified park and pavilions create a green oasis within the old city. With the addition of new walking bridges, the old city and the east shore of Aura River are more closely linked to the western commercial centre. Hämeenkatu will be transformed into a green boulevard, joining the Turku University of Applied Sciences and Kupittaa district and creating an appealing route to the city centre.
Situated on the eastern shore of the Aura River is an attractive riverside promenade where new cultural hybrids merge together culture, work and dining. An intimate square is set in front of the City Theatre and a new route to the Samppalinna Windmill leads to the Paavo Nurmi Stadium and Sports Park. In the years to come, the existing parks will become an integral part of everyday city life. The connection between the sports park and riverside running through Itsenäisyydenaukio Square is an approach that connects the park to the city, which could be adapted and applied to other parks. Humalistonkatu street extends Samppalinna’s cultural connection to the railway and creates a new sport and entertainment east-west axis. New forms of downtown housing and businesses can also be found in these cultural areas.
A Direction for Development
The project will not only offer greater development possibilities within the centre, but on both sides of the Aura River towards the harbour. By expanding development to the harbour, the distinct characteristics of Turku and the Finnish archipelago will be brought together and form a unified whole. Water elements, wood construction and various green solutions combined with nature and culture will create a truly unique identity for Turku.
The effectiveness of the Turku 2050 vision is not based on individual interventions, but on the development of an integrated set of strategies that will direct the future development of Turku. The vision offers Turku a bold alternative to what a prosperous city of the future could be.
Drawing from its rich 800-year history as Finland’s oldest city and its location at the heart of the world’ s most beautiful archipelago, Turku is on its way to becoming a world-class global city, enriching its inhabitants, businesses and culture.