Terminal of Arts & Culture, Helsinki, Finland

As the largest passenger terminal in Finland, Helsinki sees 5.4 million passengers every year. The daily influx of large ships has produced a harbor-side condition that is separated from the city center of Helsinki by the large non-descript terminals that populate its edges. Urban life has been detached from the water’s edge of South Harbor.

The unique maritime culture and landscape of the archipelago provides a unique condition in which travel and connection between islands is common. We propose to de-clutter the harbor’s edge by removing the existing cruise terminals, and replacing them with a new terminal in the center of the harbor. By relocating the cruise terminals, the harborfront can be freed up and returned to the city.

Furthermore, the proposed cruise terminal would be a part of a larger facility housing a center of arts and culture. The Terminal of Arts and Culture is conceived as a microcosm of Helsinki’s urban activity and Finnish Culture. The distinct qualities and character of the city is celebrated and displayed as a piece of collective art. The activity of ferry travel becomes a spectacle rather than a nuisance to the water’s edge.

With the cruise terminals relocated, the harborfront is freed up to become a continuous landscape, public space and development hosting a wide array of activities. The different program along the harborfront responds to the urban context: The West Promenade Park is an extension of the Observatory Hill (Tähtitorninvuoren puisto), The Harbor Bath utilizes the existing piers to create outdoor pools of different sizes, The Market Square (Kauppatori) is a multifunctional outdoor space that extends out to the waterfront and The East Promenade is a landscape that houses the Finnair SkyWheel, as well as new urban development containing residential and office program. Water taxi stations are spread throughout the harborfront providing direct access to and from the Terminal.


Location: Helsinki, Finland
Client: The Next Helsinki
Year: 2015
Scope: Concept Design (Competition)
Status: Jury’s List
Program: Cultural, Institutional, Transportation, Masterplan
Team: Nicolas Lee, in collaboration with Ryan Otterson (Ji/Otterson)