Architecture for Isosaari tourism

Type: land-use plan
Client: Senaatti-kiinteistöt
Status: planning completed
Year: 2018
Location: Isosaari, Helsinki, Finland
Size: 76 ha
Team: Sami Heikkinen (partner in charge), Ville Mellin (project architect), Anna-Kaisa Aalto, Vesa Humalisto, Antti Lehto, Timo Arjanko, Lotta Aulamo, Timo Paananen

Nature, landscape and heritage form the basis for the island’s recreational concept.

A unique island on the Helsinki shoreline

Isosaari was previously in military use, and is one of the outermost islands off the shores of Helsinki. It is situated about 8km south-east of the city centre, and has an area of about 76 hectares.

From the mid 1600s Isosaari has appeared on sea charts, and has served as a landmark for maritime transport, a base for local fishermen, a strategic military base and centre for research. The island was opened to the public in 2017.

Exemplary and diverse island habitat

The southern and western shores of the island are rugged and rocky.

Sheltered form the wind, the interior has abundant greenery and forest.

The northern shores of the island have an abundance of sandy beaches, while the easternmost tip is a 600m long rocky peninsula.

The aims of the client

The brief was to provide a vision for future island development from a standpoint of tourism and recreation. The onus of our studies were on the siting and expression of the new buildings forms.

Cultural and natural values as a basis for design

The island is part of the capital area’s line of fortifications developed during World War I, and as such is an important heritage site.

A summary of the natural and cultural values of the site was the basis for development and evaluation.

A network of pathways defines routes and protects and sensitive habitats

A network of signposted routes has been proposed, opening up the interior without weakening the existing island fabric.

Historical artillery paths make up the basis for the new network of recreational pathways.

A concept for recreational development

We defined three land-use alternatives, exploring differences in compactness and atmosphere.

An example of a land-use alternative

New development is concentrated around the harbour area, from which two routes lead to the holiday village. One a shoreline promenade, and the other making use of the old artillery routes. The holiday dwellings are arranged in small groupings, to form courtyards and pathways between.

The designs open up new opportunities for recreational development in an island environment steeped in cultural and natural heritage.