Helsinki FI

Type Open idea competition, 2020
Role Main consultant
Client City of Helsinki
Project start 2020
Status Completed


Windswept openness, the forest in the horizon and vast asphalt surfaces is the character of Malmi Airport. An impressive space, completely out of scale with the human body. How can we preserve the unique history and identity of Malmi in the transformation from open fields and runways to a pleasant urban environment?


Our vision is to bring the grandiosity and the vast landscape of the sky down to the ground as a link to the past and a direction for the future. From large scale infrastructure that was designed mainly to be experienced from the sky, the park will be transformed into an area for humans that will first experience the spaces from the ground. Flexibility and the process of time are key elements in our proposal. Allowing nature to slowly transform the widespread paved surfaces into new diverse and atmospheric spaces, gradually modifying the identity of Malmi Airport and leaving room for the local communities to affect the development.

Malmi airport has a long history as the gateway to the sky, starting in the early days of Finnish air navigation at the beginning of the 1900s. The area stands as a symbol for the dream of flying, freedom and modern mobility. As the airport is transformed into a residential neighbourhood, there is a demand for downscaling the vast runway landscape to create a pleasant environment in a human scale.

Different types of clouds – cumulus, cirrus and altocumulus – is the inspiration for the overall spatial structures of tree groves and landforms in our proposal. As you move through the park you move through a ‘cloudscape’ of changing atmospheric experiences, defined by the variety of scales and shapes of open and enclosed spaces together with rich plantings.


A preservation strategy that allows nature to take over

Time is considered an enriching element in our design. The construction of the Malmi district stretches across a long period which creates a demand for flexibility in the park design. Creating a process landscape allows the park to continually evolve, and adapt to the changing needs as the identity of the Malmi district will grow. The identity of Malmi airport is closely linked with the runways, and they are included as an important historical layer to be kept as a reminiscence of the past. However, there

is a need for transforming the paved areas to make room for nature. Step one is to remove the asphalt added in modern times to make room for rainwater volumes. Additional cut-outs kick-start the natural process and allow plants to decompose and transform the asphalt surfaces into plantings, while providing habitats for valuable ruderal species. By using different methods to kick-start the process, a new layer is added to the landscape as a way of both preserving and developing the paved areas.

Hidden treasures in the patchwork of endemic species

The cloud structured forests and groves in the park consist of a patchwork of different kinds of endemic species. Variations in height and character, changing light conditions and textures emphasize the overall impression and reinterpreting the story of the cloud landscape.

As a reference to Malmi airport history as the gate to the world, a range of exotic species is spread out through the park.

These plantings stand out as surprising islands of reminiscing from a trip to a foreign country.