Hämeenlinna is a southern Finnish city by the shores of Vanajavesi lake. Founded in 1639, it is the oldest inland city in Finland. However, Hämeen linna, a castle and a fortress in close vicinity of the city centre, has been a witness to the city’s formation and growth since the end of 13th century. Hämeenlinna is located in the region of Kanta-Häme, part of which has been inhabited since the Stone Age.
Hämeenlinna’s central location in the middle of the Helsinki-Turku-Tampere growth triangle makes it easy to reach from everywhere. Hence, Hämeenlinna is a perfect location for those, who are working in one of the bigger cities, but want to live more affordably and in direct proximity to nature. Actually, the switch in lifestyles during the pandemic seemed to make Hämeenlinna more attractive, as migration increased significantly last year. Most of the growth came from internal migration within Finland. Hämeenlinna now has 68 000 inhabitants. Only 5% of the population speak another language than Finnish or Swedish (Finland’s two official languages) as their mother tongue.
The city is a combination of urban life and nature: Hämeenlinna is known as an administrative and cultural city and, at the same time, is characterised by its proximity to the water and the surrounding green landscape. There are also several national parks in the vicinity of the city.
The site in focus is a former island that has been occupied by a hospital since the 19th century. Today it is connected to the mainland, but has a great deal of waterfront and a direct view to Hämeen linna over Linnansalmi bay. The site definitely has its charm with a small harbour and surrounding greenery. The potential, however, is not being fully exploited and much of the park on the site is now used as a parking lot.
The site is located between the railway station and city centre. The railway station and the centre across the bay seem somewhat distant, although the actual distance is only 1 km. Hence, the site has a crucial role in better connecting the two. The city’s cultural hotspot Verkatehdas, an old textile factory that now houses e.g. a theatre, theatre, restaurants, spaces for workshops, events and more, is in an immediate vicinity. Hämeenlinna Art Museum is also located in the area.
The first part of the hospital building on site was designed by the famous architect C.L. Engel. The hospital has been extended several times and has architectural layers from several years. As the health care services are now planned to be moved elsewhere, the future of the site, as well as of the buildings, is very open.