The competition brief called for a long term vision for the municipality of Mäntyharju. The town is typical for non-urban Finland: many historical parts of the built environment have been replaced by unattractive townscape in the 1970s, residents depend on car transportation, the town has a declining and aging population, and traditional local industries are becoming less and less profitable.
Mäntyharju is located by a lake in a beautiful geographic location, and it is one of the most popular summer house municipalities in Finland. Sustainable long-term development must make use of existing potentials, and be easily approachable and explicitly beneficial to permanent residents. After considering budget constraints and the lack of agility in municipal decision-making processes, the design team decided on an iterative rather than radical strategy approach.
The entry focuses on creating prerequisites for growth from local skills and raw materials through entrepreneurship, tourism and attracting new long-term residents. Activities take place throughout the year as the potentials of different seasons are taken into account. The core concept of the plan is Mäntyharju Catalogue, a collection of wood products which can be produced locally, from street furniture activating public spaces currently dominated by car-parking, to small scale housing prototypes introducing and accommodating new sustainable lifestyles.
In collaboration with Ron Aasholm, Elsi Lehto, Riikka Leinonen, Maija Parviainen
A collection of wooden structures which support local industries, and provide discreet interventions to appropriate residual zones and unused parking areas into public space.
The shoreline is reimagined as an everyday environment of seasonal recreation by highlighting and reprogramming existing potentials.
Open areas need to be restructured in order to attract pedestrians to reappropriate the town. The key issue in addressing the townscape as a whole is to target the extensive parking lots for supermarkets and retail, which are in full use in Summer months but mostly empty in Winter. The team proposes a half pipe for snowboarding as a playful intervention to assert the possibilities in rethinking seasonal use of space.
Spatial transition along the main street from supermarkets to small scale residential.
A town like Mäntyharju attracts residents for different reasons than cities. Sustainability must be considered as part of an attractive small town lifestyle, both in terms of environmental sustainability and long-term prosperity by social sustainability. In the case of Mäntyharju, the town center can benefit from new small-scale residential development, and thus, more residents within walking distance to amenities.