Porvoo, Finland. with Antoine Hertenberger. 2011

"The action of revealing new landscapes"

The site stands between various infrastructural key elements that the city of Porvoo has developed and used throughout the years. This system established strong connexions with the natural surrounding converting it in a production tool. The old wood fabric extends on the territory: Machines are all around the mill; wood is dried and piled on the ground close to the fabric; the river transports the logs and the train system crosses the land connecting the city to the country. An electrical transformer substation draws an empty line through the old wood fabric. Water canals spread all over the site, and redirect the melting snow to the river, in intent to prevent spring flooding.

The highway to the north and the cemetery to the south, act as contemporary borders for this former industrial district.

Observing the aerial photo of Porvoo and its new developments beyond its walls, the image that immediately springs to mind is that of an organic fabric, of a thread like form that accumulates in more or less dense lumps. At the centre the material is relatively compact, but towards the edge it expels islands detached from the rest of the constructed fabric,

A balance between plan, subdivision and construction. The most important means for achieving this, is the relation between public and private and the associated differences in atmosphere between hard and soft.

      As described in the diagrams, the whole operation is organised in 3 stages. The first developments take place by the train station and the old sawmill. They both are planned in two phase of expansion. The third district is independent from the other ones as its construction will begin once the other ones expansion is completed. The operation will define the limits of the new park around the station and the green valley around the sawmill towards the river.   All the new dwellings, raised between 0.50m and 4.00m above the ground depending on their location on the site, offer various amenities and services on the former ground level, where flood does not reach. Like “aircraft carriers” carry planes, a raised surface above the ground hosts the dwelling units, sharing main accesses and general amenities.  The remaining and in-betweens forms the public space of each piece. A structural frame made of wooden pillars every 5 meters supports the deck. By this mean, the total weight of the carrier is distributed among a wider surface, reducing the impact on the ground. Drinking water distribution, electricity, wastewater network are hanging under this structural frame and connected to recycle systems under the carriers, on the natural soil. Using a simple module of 5,20m x 10,40m, 11 dwelling types are proposed, reaching from a 30m2 studio to 200m2 5 rooms apartment. Putting together all these units on a same deck offers a mixed neighbourhood and conveys an image of the scale of small houses but with benefits of a collective dwelling.