Exhibition at the Museum of Finnish Architecture, March 28th–May 27th, 2012
Finland has 320,000 kilometres of shoreline – that’s eight times the Earth’s circumference. Seas, lakes and rivers make up hundreds of kilometres of shoreline in the densely populated capital and the southern Finnish town of Lahti. The proximity of water and great diversity of beaches is a defining element of Helsinki’s and Lahti’s urban identity. The abundance of waterfront land in public use is also a special asset enhancing their appeal and livability.
Over the course of history, the use of shorelines has evolved in step with changes in urban life. Currently many waterfront areas are undergoing intense development. Traditionally occupied by ports, factories and holiday villas, many urban shorelines are hosting new residential communitie and recreational environments. Our cities are opening up towards the sea. Natural, undeveloped beaches and land reclaimed for industry are being revitalised for new forms of urban usage. The city’s relationship with the water is changing, once again.
Shorelines – Urban living by the water takes four different perspectives on waterfront development in Espoo, Helsinki, Kauniainen, Lahti and Vantaa, the five cities sharing the World Design Capital title this year. It explores various ways of utilising the land-water interface.
/ Untouched beaches provide a setting to relax and enjoy nature.
/ Residential development in urban waterfront settings makes up a cultural landscape spanning centuries. These historical layers are finding new-found appreciation as something intrinsically worthy of preservation for the benefit of posterity.
/ The inner-city shoreline is in a continual state of flux, with industry, commerce and housing competing for prime waterfront property.
/ The exhibition also looks at waterfront development in the light of today’s values and ideals. In the future, our shorelines may open up unforeseen opportunities for the homes of tomorrow.
The presentations in the accompanying Shorelines catalogue provide a lively, readable account of the history, present and future of waterfront living in Finland. Spanning from the 1700s to the present day, the featured sites provide a rich sample of high-quality architecture and attractive residential settings praised by their inhabitants. The book shows why the chosen 19 sites are especially well-loved and appealing to residents. The book is available in Finnish and English versions.
The key sites featured in the book and exhibition span a wide historical spectrum from the Helsinki Parish Village and 18th sea fortress of Suomenlinna to a selection of new waterfront communities in both the capital region and Lahti.
In April and May there will be an accompanying programme of lectures and urban expeditions to the featured sites, exploring how city dwellers’ relationship with the shoreline has changed over history and future visions of urban waterfront living. Read more
For further details, please visit the museum’s website and check us out on Facebook and Twitter.
Load the press release in Swedish (PDF).
Låda pressmeddelanden på svenska (PDF).
Click to load the pictures in hi-res.

Merenkulkija Housing, Lauttasaari, Helsinki.
NRT Architects 2008.
Merenkulkijanranta housing blocks, Lauttasaari, Helsinki. Still awaiting their finishing touches, these new waterfront flats are sited on the scenic peninsula of Vattuniemi. A former industrial area rezoned in the 1980s, it is now an attractive, sought-after residential and recreational area.
Photo: Antti Luutonen/NRT
Kalasatama harbour area, Helsinki.
Kalasatama (Fish Harbour), Helsinki. While plans for its revitalisation await completion, the Fish Harbour has become a hub of alternative culture, hosting everything from rock concerts to guerrilla gardens.
Photo: Mete Ufacik 2011
Kivinokka summer cabins, Helsinki.
Kivinokka summer cabins, Herttoniemi, Helsinki. This colony of diminutive cabins was built in the early 1900s by the local workers’ association. Still popular today, there are roughly 800 cabins in the colony.
Photo: Laura Mattila
Aurinkolahti beach, Vuosaari, Helsinki.
The perpendicular placement of the blocks of flats provides free access to the public beach and open-access swimming area.
Photo: Kaisa Karhu/MFA 2011
Katajanokka, Helsinki.
Formerly the site of a garrison, industrial buildings and a port, the inner-city waterfront district of Katajanokka began evolving into a prestigious residential area in the 1960s.
Photo: Simo Rista/MFA 1970's
Toukola-Viikki area, Helsinki.
This aerial photograph taken in the 1930s shows the Arabia porcelain works in the centre. Further in the background is Viikki, Helsinki’s new ‘green city’ hosting nature reserves and the bioscience campus of Helsinki University.
Photo: Sääski Ltd/MFA 1930's
Kalasatama harbour area, Helsinki.
With port facilities now transferred to Vuosaari, the Fish Harbour is to become a new type of residential community providing thousands of new homes and jobs in the near future. The shoreline will be utilised in various creative ways.
Photo: Aukusti Heinonen/MFA 2011
Vuosaari, Helsinki.
Vuosaari, Helsinki. The maritime residential community of Vuosaari is a successful fusion of public and privately funded construction projects, providing unrestricted public access to all beaches.
Photo: Aukusti Heinonen/MFA 2011