Questions and answers about the Old Town of Turku

Is it possible that new buildings could come to the area in the future? The Old Town as a term is reminiscent of a densely built environment, unlike the current, rather spacious one.  If there were to come new construction in the area, it would be good to respect the old ones.

The starting point of the development plan has been the fact that various property owners and developers are willing to infill the area into just a slightly denser, Old Town-style entity. Turku has its own architectural policy program and Turku, as a historic city, has declared itself a model city for the coordination of the new and the old. It means adapting a new building to an old building as well as new uses for old buildings. Turku is very famous for its innovative use of old buildings, such as the Puutori Toilet and the Logomo as a cultural center. But we don`t have many examples where new construction has been well adapted to the historic environment because no complementary construction has been done in those areas.  Hopefully, there will be something new: seamlessly fitting to the old yet representing our time.

Among other things, tomorrow`s Old Town is also a home to many people.

This is related to considering whether new housing could also enter the area. If the area wants different events, concerts and restaurants with outdoor terraces, there could be a conflict between residents and activities. This has been somewhat evident in places on the riverside as new settlements and events have entered. How do residents perceive the role of events in this area? Do they want the area to be revitalized and activities to be brought in or do they want to be cautious about revitalizing it?

It is good that the development of this important area is being considered. There are many possibilities, and you can even take inspiration from Stockholm.

As part of the development work international benchmarking is also carried out, i.e., inspiration is taken with broad perspective.

If you want to arrange something quickly, it is a good idea to support the implementation of temporary events with equipment, furniture, information support, etc.

Such an activity can be arranged very quickly, but with caution because of the Covid 19.

What is the ownership background of the area? The city owns some buildings and thus can act on them, but how about Åbo Akademi, The University of Turku and the private sector?

Ownership of the area is decentralized. The city owns essential parts of area around the Old Square Market. There is also the property of Rettig`s old tobacco factory, owned by the Åbo Akademi University Foundation. The Åbo Akademi University Foundation, Åbo Akademi, the University of Turku, Turku University Foundation and University properties of Finland LTD all own properties in the area, and all have some type of renovation and development ideas.  They are all actively involved in the development work. It is good that ownership is distributed, because much more can be obtained, and faster.  

In my opinion, the new concert hall planned for Turku should be built to Tuomaanpuisto, i.e., in the northern part of the area, where traffic connections would work. With it, the routes along the river would have a fixed point and that would bring more interest to the region. Could this work? The current idea for building on a government agency plot is not working.

An interesting idea, and a new one. In terms of traffic, the place would be difficult, as its use would be based on private motoring. The intention is to locate the concert hall in a place where public transport or walking and cycling connections operate.  

What are the regions potentials as a concentration of artists, designers and cultural producers? This type of activity is often one that helps to attract tourism and leisure activities, and thus also increases the business potential of the area, cf. Telliskivi in Tallinn and Ströget in Copenhagen. 

It could be a concentration of culture, history and activities, also seen through the ongoing cultural -campus process. There is potential in the region for the visibility of cultural actors to be significantly stronger than it may have been this far. As the development plan is taken on, it is important to think where these facilities could be located, how will they be used, where will they be added to and what are the concrete means to promote visibility in the area.

What is the timetable in planning the Old Town? If there is new construction to be built, at what state would the town plan area be renewed?

The development project serves as a basis on which zoning projects can be launched as needed. There are no new plans, that would set off immediately. The development plan creates opportunities, and the zoning is done as needed, preferably in slightly larger units, i.e., not quite one plot at the time. In zoning, it is essential to assess the values of protection culture; what are the essential things to be protected and what are the things that can change and bring out structures of different eras in that environment.

Completion of the pedestrian riverside route with the section between Agricola and Jokikatu?

The decision to make the pedestrian riverside route was made three years ago. Next year’s infrastructure budget includes the implementation of the route.   

It is great that already the next year´s budget has the pedestrian riverside route from Archbishops onwards. It is also important to have good and inviting lightning on these routes.

All in all, in the Old Town area, the development plan will take a stand on lightning and see what can be done for it in the whole area. The project manager in the spearhead project responsible for event lightning has started lightning pilot exercises in this dark season to delight the townspeople.

From time to time, discussion arises about the dedication of the streets for walking and light traffic, and it is a good thing. Have you considered how to make room for residents and visitors’ cars? Is there space to be mined under the Yliopistonmäki?

Parking in the area is challenging, especially as the number of users and needs will be higher in the future. On the other hand, the area is very accessible other than your own car. A rock park survey has been carried out this year, in which the possibility of making a parking space in a few different places has been investigated, but the Yliopistonmäki was not involved.

Are there resources for zoning or will this go to the end of the queue?

Prioritization is done every year. If there is an important project, an attempt will be made to promote various partnerships so that the city will not carry the burden alone, but others will come to help with the project. It is certainly a question of what a project is like. Small projects are easily moved to the end of the queue. However, the development of the city center is a spearhead project, and it means that these smaller projects can be highlighted when needs arise.

Some time ago it became common knowledge that the Gadolinia building in the middle of the area would be demolished. It seemed that the final solution about the purpose of a new building had not yet been made. Would it be worth discussing with the owners at this stage of development? If the trend is to move the Academy`s new facilities to new campuses, what would replace Gadolinia in the new plans?  

Åbo Akademi University has planned a campus concentration in Gadolinia so that the whole would be renovated and all the facilities for students would be built in the area of the current yard. In the context, the replacement of the old Gadolinia with a new building has been discussed. The reason is apparently that it is an impractical building.  It requires a renewal of zoning and examination of the cultural-historical values of the building and its possible suitability for a new use. The development of the Gadolinia block is timely with these prospects in 2025-2026.

Are there any plans for the Maaherran makasiini block?

The block is owned by the Turku University Foundation. It has had various discussions on the yards complementary building. But there is no current town plan project.

In the autumn of 2020, there were  interactive events during which people had a chance to comment and ask questions on the development of the area.