Public Spaces for the Dance House Helsinki


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Location: Finland / Helsinki / Type: Parks / Roofs / Squares and Plazas / Built: 2023 /
Show on Google Maps / Published on March 28, 2024

Dance House Helsinki, a building dedicated to the art of dance, opened at the beginning of 2022. Dance House Helsinki is a major cultural project in the city that amplifies the already diverse range of events and the culture of the former industrial site of Cable Factory. As a result of the project, the environment was also renewed into a high-level cityscape and functionally supporting Dance House and Cable Factory. Nomaji was responsible for the landscape design of the Dance House project, including the associated public outdoor spaces – the Kaapelipuisto Park and the Kaapeliaukio Square. The design started with a general concept design in 2017, and the projects were completed in phases in 2022-2023.

The starting point was to create pedestrian-friendly urban spaces that serve diverse users and respect the Cable Factory’s industrial milieu. Durable materials, such as granite paving stones recycled from the site, massive domestic granite boulders and steel, have been used. The goal was also to bring nature to an area where it was initially scarce. This was realised with diverse vegetation and a vegetated roof.

Kaapeliaukio

Kaapeliaukio Square, a former parking lot, is now the entrance and event square of the new Dance House and the historical Cable Factory. The design concept is based on durable and natural materials, creating a certain harsh quality that emphasises the area’s industrial history. This is contrasted with light and transformable elements and functions inspired by dance, vegetation, water, light, events, and urban life.

Trees and seating areas surround the square, and vegetation and landscaping delimit the space in the adjacent traffic area. The middle part of the square is lowered from the surrounding walkways to create a central area dedicated to skateboarding, performances and other activities. Large block-faced natural stone boulders line the square, forming auditorium-like platforms. On the other side, the square is bordered by a cast-in-place skateable concrete structure that also serves as a seat. The square’s furniture and equipment are integrated or designed for the location. To support biodiversity and water infiltration, areas with a steel grid surface were made, where ruderate-type meadow vegetation was planted. In the future, the vegetation in these areas will be allowed to develop naturally.

Kaapelipuisto

On the other side of the Dance House, Kaapelipuisto Park was designed as a breathing space for the residents of the area and the users of the Dance House and the Cable Factory.

The challenge in planning the park was the location of the maintenance traffic of the Dance House in the park area. Despite this, efforts were made to make the relatively small park as green as possible, and the service traffic space was integrated into a part of the park. Massive stone boulders create rhythm, delimit the space, and create seating areas at the edges of the open space. The mixed perennial vegetation is exceptionally versatile. Functional islands are located at both ends of the park, where sculptural exercise equipment got its idea from dance and gymnastics movements.

In addition to the public spaces, a vegetated roof was implemented for the Dance House. The importance of the roof, among other things, is the delay of the stormwater on the plot. The roof is located on several levels, creating different growing conditions. Each part of the roof was designed with its plant palette, consisting of drought-tolerant meadow plants, grasses, and sedums.

Project Data

Landscape architecture: Nomaji

Project location: Helsinki, Finland

Design year: 2017-2019

Year Built: 2022-2023

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