Sivuraiteilla speculates with using old passenger train cars, a common and identifiable mean of transportation today, as a platform for future state-subsidized rental housing. The project addresses the dominance of typology and modularity in contemporary housing, and the relationship between an intended area brand and the existing industrial built environment. Trains currently purchased by Finnish Railway Company VR will be at the end of their technical usability by the end of 2040’s, so it will be a matter of creativity and will to find them a proper use after their life as vehicles ends.
Sopenkorpi area in Lahti, Southern Finland, has been off the tracks when it comes to a lively neighbourhood. By utilizing the identity as a railway depot area it is possible to reimagine the historical image in an attractive, distinct way. Making use of historical layers combined with the challenges of the future, Sopenkorpi will be known as a place of human scale, post-industrial appropriation and reachable services across the neighbourhood.
As Sopenkorpi never had a train station to create a node of interaction, shops and mobility, it is an opportunity to use approachable and familiar spatial concepts related to train travel for a new unexpected entrance gateway. Like a fleeting landscape associated with train travel historically, the Sivuraiteilla project attempts to address a memory of the place, a transforming identity and an understanding of history.
Sivuraiteilla housing is based on a steel frame structure in combination with the train cars, as train weels and tracks work as structural elements. Steel frame is easily replaceable and extendable according to changing needs, so new terraces, balconies or other structures can be later added. Additionally, more trains can be converted to housing with time, as the frame structure can be modified accordingly. The project makes a point of allowing personification of ones living enviroment, and encourages tenants to identify themselves with their rented apartment. This encourages long-term residency, a positive effect both for the landlord and the tenant.
Sivuraiteilla-project consists of three parts:
(1) a new addition using identifiable objects (the steel frame + train housing)
(2) an existing vertical landmark further highlighted by programmatic reconfiguration (wheat grain storage from the 1970s)
(3) a rather anonymous, introverted horizontal building turned into a local multi-program node, the mediatheque (Sopenkorvenkatu 21, previously a hall for exhibiting farming equipment, currently a storage space).
All three mark the concept for creating extraordinary environment by making use of what is already there in one form or the other, and turning it into an unexpected local highlight.