The IFHP Urban Planning and Design Summer School is based on an intensive workshop taking place in a Finnish city. This year, we are collaborating with Pori, a coastal city in southwestern Finland. Pori was founded in the Kokemäki estuary in 1558 to replace the port of Ulvila, which had become unnavigable due to upthrust. Like many other Finnish cities of that time, the buildings in Pori were mainly built of wood, which made the city vulnerable to devastating fires. During its history, Pori has burned nine times, the most recent of which, in 1852, destroyed 75% of the town. After that, the city got a new empire-style gridiron plan, which defines the city centre even today.
In addition to being a prominent port city for coal, ore, concentrates, chemicals, and lumber, Pori has been a centre of the textile, timber, and metal industries. Pori is also renowned for its strong cultural scene of art and music. The annual international Pori Jazz Festival has been organised in the city since 1966. Yyteri, one of the longest beaches in the Nordic countries, is located in Pori.
New city vision
Pori is a relatively small, yet unique Finnish city. In recent years, however, the city has struggled with the dwindling vitality of the city centre and attracting new residents. Moving from the macro to the micro level, participants of the summer school first envision possible futures for the entire city and then focus on two sites with both intersecting and divergent features. The fundamental questions are how Pori is linked to global phenomena and how the two sites in focus are related to the city and its ongoing processes. The projects are developed in a semi-realistic manner through interaction with planners and experts in planning, education and research.
Karjaranta is situated on the shores of the Kokemäki River in the vicinity of the city centre. As the area is prone to flooding, it first served as pastureland (hence the name “cattle shore”) and then housed an industrial area and an oil harbour. During the past decades, Karjaranta has evolved into desirable housing area with stunning river views. Nevertheless, there are still areas left to be developed in a sustainable and visionary manner. While most of Karjaranta’s industrial past has been demolished to make place for new residential buildings, Karjaranta still has heavy industry operating. The machinery has a service life of about 30 more years, after which the future of the area is uncertain. Squeezed between two expanding residential areas, the remaining industrial buildings are in danger of being demolished if new innovative uses do not appear.
Väinölä is a suburban housing estate built in the 1970s on the eastern edge of the city to accommodate the workers of the nearby copper refinery. It is part of the Itä-Pori district, which is bordered by the Kokemäki river from the northeast and comprises, e.g., Kupariteollisuuspuisto (“Copper industrial park”), housing enterprises related to the copper industry, their partners, and subcontractors, as well as a shortwave radio station from 1939. From there, Finland was connected to the rest of the world for decades. Itä-Pori has recently seen several development initiatives but lacks a comprehensive vision. In contrast, Väinölä has received far less attention. How could Väinölä be linked to the ongoing development of the shortwave radio station and the surrounding park, for example, and become an integral part of the Itä-Pori vision?