Lunden Architecture Company.
By 2050 the commercial centre will be expanding, the old town will turn into a European oasis for encounters and the eastern bank of the River Aura with a view to the evening sun will function as a vivid platform for a new kind of combination of culture, restaurants and work.
According to the vision group that has been considering the future of the centre, it is possible for Turku to become a globally important city whose exceptional archipelago nature and developed infrastructure create the prerequisites for comfortable living and a vivid economy and culture.
– The image of a city develops through the city centre. Turku and its historic centre that has developed on the riverside has unique points of strength but also plenty of potential that has not been harnessed. By building on its unique identity and strengths, the city has all possibilities to become globally significant. However, this calls for considerable changes and shared will, says Markku Wilenius, Professor of Future Studies at the University of Turku.
Competition between cities has shifted from national level to global level, with cities competing of inhabitants, businesses and know-how. At the same time, the rise of the urban lifestyle has raised the level of expectations in terms of the quality of public spaces. People have become the key point in planning.
– A city structure enjoyed by the best European cities requires comprehensive planning and a new kind of balance between different means of transport. The core of the centre ought to be primarily reserved for pedestrians and light and public transport. Those entering the city must be provided with an opportunity to reach the centre effortlessly regardless of the means of traffic. This has been the starting point of our distinctively future oriented plan. A city that focuses on its people is a good place to live, it is economically strong and internationally involved, Wilenius states.
The core of the city centre expanding
The centre is a manifestation of the European Turku and the most important location of work, trade and culture in western Finland. The central idea of the vision is the expansion of the city centre core and a supporting user oriented traffic system that enables growth. These are believed for their part to direct development and investments towards the centre.
– The structure of the city of Turku is largely influenced by the grid plan designed by Carl Ludvig Engel at the end of the 19th century. After that time, the development has been influenced by the rising number of cars and the major commercial projects of the recent years that have shifted the focus of commercial activity outside the centre. At the same time, the most commercially attractive centre area of the city has remained narrow, says Director of Urban Planning Timo Hintsanen.
The vision includes the expansion of the commercial centre from the surroundings of the Market Square towards the riverfront and the harbour. The Market Square will become a multipurpose meeting place and a vivid centre of events, with plants and permanent structures increasing its attractiveness. The quarters surrounding the Market Square will form a united network of city malls and new business premises and other spaces are built in the quarters of the centre.
– The plan for the Market Square is based on already existing plans and two thirds of the surface area will remain in market use, Hintsanen says.
– Dissolving the overcrowded spot of public transportation of Aurakatu and Eerikinkatu into new city terminals will enable the development of the Market Square into a vivid meeting place for the residents of Turku. The scale of the Market Square will become smaller by building terraces and stairs to sit on. At the same time, events and activities will become possible also outside the operating hours of the market sales. The objective is to create a Market Square that is vivid and safe around the year, around the clock, Lundén says.
The centre will become more accessible and moving inside the centre will be made more convenient by clarifying the traffic system and use of street space. New city terminals of public transport will make the centre hubs more vivid and guide the flow of people to an area wider than before. This allows the commercial core of the centre to expand. New street sections will gradually shift towards focus on walking and cycling, in accordance with international trends and success stories of other cities.
The visions sets the direction for development
According to Hintsanen, the vision work has opened many new kinds of development opportunities.
– The most important observation is that controlled growth in accordance with the vision, even remarkable growth, can help increase the attractiveness of the centre and to improve its functionality. One important point is that in the future, the city will develop and expand also on this side of the river, Hintsanen says.
– Just like in all other developed harbour cities – in Copenhagen and Hamburg, for example – also in Turku the centre will be expanding to the river delta and the harbour. The Turku of the future will further expand to the archipelago and the centre will manifest more features related to the archipelago. Water elements, timber building and plants combine nature and culture into a unique whole that people will come to admire from around the world, Wilenius says.
According to Wilenius and Hintsanen, the vision group has grasped that development towards the right direction on a large scale is what matters, rather than single actions.
– Above all, the vision sets the direction for future development. It provides one example of a well-argued option for what a successful city centre could be like in the future, Wilenius says.