The built environment is now the largest negative factor in the stability of ecosystems and the climate. And as populations become increasingly urbanized, the evolution of cities will largely shape the outcome of our long dependence on natural resources. Two pathways of evolution are evident: an urban society that is in balance with the environment, or one that has depleted available natural capital. The decisions that will direct this evolution over the next 50-100 years are being made now.
It is clear that no single organization, profession or nation can achieve the goals of sustainable global development. It will require an architecture of solutions including low/no carbon buildings; sustainable economic systems; enhanced/targeted mobility; sustainable planning and energy policies; resilient social systems (access, equity and capacity), among countless others.
Recognizing the need and opportunity to significantly improve sustainable building development practices, Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fundâ€”in collaboration with the City of Helsinkiâ€”is launching a sustainable development design competition. The competition will be launched March 31, 2009 with a global request for qualifications. The goal is to attract and identify the best teams to design a large building complex on an approximately 3/4 hectare site on the reclaimed goods harbour at the western edge of Helsinkiâ€™s central business district.
Given that the repertoire of sustainable urban development models is still in its infancy, the question of â€œwho & howâ€ is our question of first order. WHO: We believe that identifying the best team and approach is the key factor impacting the long term quality and robustness of the final solution. HOW: Our sustainable development design competition is designed to seek approaches for four central objectives applied at the scale of a city block:
1. energy efficiency
2. low/no carbon emissions
3. high architectural, spatial and social value
4. sustainable materials and methods
As part of their proposals, entrants must also consider the context and dynamics beyond the city block that will impact the project in the near and long terms. As such we will select teams with a robust and mixed set of competencies (such as architecture, engineering, economics, landscape, technology, urban planning and energy infrastructure), representing the mix of stakeholders and issues at play in urban development. We expect that architects will lead these teams in most cases, but are open to other team configurations.
Our program is a mixed-use development that includes: headquarters for an innovation driven organization; housing; retail; and potentially other programs that support a sustainable approach to urban development.
Our site is located on 100 hectares of reclaimed land known as JÃ¤tkÃ¤saari. The relocation of Helsinkiâ€™s port facilities to the eastern edge of the city in 2008 has initiated the largest transformation of land use in the city since the industrial era. As many as six large areas in metropolitan Helsinki, including JÃ¤tkÃ¤saari, are in various stages of planning as a result.
JÃ¤tkÃ¤saari will be developed over the next two decades to house 16.000 residents, 6.000 jobs, offices and public services. Several new tram line extensions will provide access to the city centre only three kilometres away while parking space and vehicular traffic will be minimized through a mobility management plan.
It is our intention to stimulate innovation in sustainable architecture, energy efficiency, and city-building solutions. We hope that a model of sustainable urbanism emerges from the proposals that will not only serve the City of Helsinki and its inhabitants, but more broadly, be a learning model for development globally.
Visit: www.low2no.org/competition/ for more details. A summary of the competition is available here (PDF).
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