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Arabiazza Urban Plan for the Arabia District

The future development of the Arabia Historic District in Helsinki has culminated in the second round of a two-stage competition. 

Arabiazza(s) — one of the four proposals selected for the second stage — was developed by team leader Anssi Lassila and comprised of OOPEAA working in collaboration with Lunden Architecture and Gehl Architects acting as a consultant in urban public space. Through a sequential flow of spaces in the form of public squares, Arabiazza(s) fundamentally aims to encourage public interaction. The intent to engage a broad range of people — from students to tourists to workers — inspired the creation of multiple sheltered inner courtyards.

The [Arabia] area has seen many transformations over time, and now that the factory that once was the heart and soul of the area is no longer active, the neighborhood is facing yet another new phase of development, writes Anssi Lassila. 

The project's secondary goal is rendering a sustainable urban environment within the district. To promote walking in the neighborhood, the architects have curated a clear path through the area, complementing the sequence of squares. In addition to public space, the old Arabia factory building will be converted to a hotel featuring loft apartments on the top floors. Housing for students, senior citizens, and families will have specific designs.

Furthermore, to cultivate the district's creative side, the Design Center will feature exhibitions and a space for an architecture-related museum. Courtyard gardens also offer green respites for the district's visitors. Additionally, in an effort to attract tourists, the area will feature a public library, restaurants, and cafes.

Arabiazza(s) aspiration to create a vibrant neighborhood is ingrained in their urban plan. Preserved and renovated buildings will sustain the historic elements of the neighborhood, while transportation by bike or on foot is emphasized through the series of spaces. 

Location: Helsinki, Finland 
Size: 147 000 m2 (whole); 52 000 m2 (new construction)
Year: 2016 (competition)
Competition team: Arabiazza(s) was developed by a team led by Anssi Lassila and composed of OOPEAA working in collaboration with Lundén Architecture. Gehl Architects acted as an expert in matters of urban public space.
Team: Anssi Lassila (OOPEAA), OOPEAA Office For Peripheral Architecture, FIN, Kazunori Yamaguchi, architect, M. Arch, Pavla Hradilova, architect, M. Arch, Iida Hedberg, architect SAFA, M. Arch, Marko Simsiö, architecture student, Lundén Architecture Ltd, FIN, Eero Lundén, FRSA, architect, M. Arch, Maija Parviainen, architect SAFA, M. Arch, Ron Aasholm, architect, M. Arch, Carmen Lee, architect, M. Arch, Rubén Tomás Verde, M.Arch, Gehl Architects, DK, David Sim, Partner, architect SAR/MSA, M. Arch, Malin Nilsson, architect SAR/MSA, M. Arch

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