Marja-Riitta Norri Architects

Dancing Harbour

Helsinki, Finland

In Helsinki, citizens take over urban spaces for their self-organised activities, such as the Restaurant Day, dance hall events, Dinner under the Sky, urban farming, block parties, Tour of the Choirs. The appeal of the city is enhanced by today’s large-scale events like diverse festivals and the Slush technology and startup event. The competition area of South Harbor is one of the best in Helsinki but inefficiently used. In this proposal the shoreline area is activated for the use of the citizens. New urban outdoor spaces are formed on the waterfront, on the northern side of the new buildings and on the garden deck.

“Dancing Harbour” brings the much needed House of Dance into the South Harbour together with the Checkpoint Project Hall. The House of Dance has two high-quality performance spaces with convertible seating and several rehearsal halls as well as other supporting spaces. The halls are also suitable for music, cinema, theatre and circus performances. Dance events can be organised in the foyers, on the deck and on the dance quay by the waterside.

The Project Hall is a space to bring artists together. It includes exhibition space, wood and metal workshops, open office space, a meeting point with a café, a digital art library and an outdoor exhibition area next to the Old Market Hall. The spaces can be adapted for different uses. The windows of the workshops open towards the sea, so the passers-by can watch the work being done. Some spaces can be occasionally reserved for projects that offer activities to the general public. On the shore there are berths for an art boat that cruises to the nearby islands and for a boat café.

The art workshops with exhibition space, the spaces reserved for dance and the outdoor areas function flexibly and overlap, creating synergy and places for current and future projects of professional artists and all citizens. The art library offers a channel for networking with events all around the city. On the edges of the buildings, spaces overlooking the sea, sky and park are reserved for silent reflection.

The buildings, which can be constructed in phases, have recycled materials in the facades and interiors, and green roofs. They reflect the altering, layered and unfinished nature of the urban structure and inspire the making of art:

Public spaces and a public culture that can generate decent livelihoods and be accountable to communities.

The competition entry as a PDF file.