Porvoo FI

Type Commission
Team ALA Architects and SITOWISE
Role Landscape architects
Client Porvoo Municipality
Size 12,500 m2
Project start 2020
Status Authorities processing


The renowned architect Carl Ludvig Engel created the detailed plan of the city centre of Porvoo/Borgå in 1832. The empire-style of the street network, together with a few buildings and the town square are still observable today. However, the role and atmosphere of the central city square have markedly changed and the historic setting appears blurred as new contrasting functions have been added.


A market place, a government square, and important traffic node are some of the different purposes the Porvoo square has fulfilled during the years. Our concept design for the development of Porvoo square seeks to preserve the role and the characteristics of this classic monumental square from the early 19th century while adapting the square to fit the needs of the modern-day city of Porvoo.

A contemporary design for the historic Porvoo square

The new square design combines the historical empire-style with a contemporary form language, creating a high-quality and flexible urban space for social interactions between citizens of all ages.

The green axis running through the square is an important historic feature that we utilize with our proposal. Together with carefully selected materials, the green axis plays an important role in weaving history and future together.

The bordering areas of lime trees in the north and the south are also an important historic feature to preserve. The lime trees create two opposites of urban green: the peaceful, historical southern part and the active, modern northern part. The historical side also includes typical empire-designed planting islands with perennial plantings, whilst the other side reflects a modern interpretation of an urban square with multispecies of trees and more casual planting compositions.

The reference plan of the square and its surroundings. The historically significant buildings and their symmetrical rows of lime trees are situated in the south of the square (the down corner of the map) and the new, modern part with liberally placed trees of many different species in the north.

A natural place for arriving

Porvoo square is the most important traffic node in the city from here you travel to or from the town. All the bus, pedestrian and bicycle traffic generates a vibrant urban atmosphere, that isn’t fully utilized today. Instead, the square is dominated by the bus traffic as the station is located in the centre of the square. Which both occupy a lot of space and divides the square.

Therefore, we re-organize the bus traffic from the centre of the square out

in the outskirts to free space for new functions and urban life.

A high-quality canopy or sculpture-like pavilion, made of wood and glass, highlights the monumentality of the square and creates a new identity for the northern part of the square as a natural extension of the shopping street. A new quality pavement stretches out across the roads to the facades to highlight the historic square and create a stronger sense of arrival.

An easily navigated square

As the square is an important traffic node, it’s crucial to create an easily navigated urban space. A new quality pavement unities the square and creates a distinct urban carpet that together with new urban furniture and a detailed lighting plan naturally subdivide the square and guides you around. Stay and flow areas are subtly differentiated in the pavement

to naturally lead you to the important anchor points while creating calm areas for stay, play and cultural activities.


When arriving at Porvoo Square you easily get an overview of the space and can continue your journey or enjoy the vibrant city life.