The Hernesaari development is part of a sea-oriented change process in Helsinki. The traditional co-existence between port and industrial functions and the inner-city housing blocks is over, and Hernesaari will be, above all, a housing area oriented towards tourism and leisure.
As the Jätkäsaari development (Hernesaari’s western neighbour) and Hernesaari are transformed into housing areas, these former industrial and port premises are integrated with Inner Helsinki. Thereby, the city structure is harmonised, and Inner Helsinki’s provision of housing, jobs, services and opportunities for exercise and recreation will be even more varied.
Helsinki’s skyline, as seen from the sea, will change as the large factory buildings and warehouses of the shipbuilding industry give way to a housing-dominated seafront city district. The shipyard that still exists today continues operation in Hietalahti just north of Hernesaari. Of the buildings standing in the area today, only the Ford factory building, the Munkkisaari industrial building, the State’s grain silos, the public seashore sauna Löyly and the seafront Café Birgitta will remain. The factory buildings and the grain silos will be a reminder of activities in Hernesaaari in the olden days, even though these buildings are used for other purposes today. The stretch of park areas along the southern shore of Inner Helsinki extends well onto the eastern shore of Hernesaari.
One of the objectives in Hernesaari is to create state-of-the-art, eventful urban housing in blocks of flats. A neighbourhood making for a diverse population and housing structure, with emphasis on a varied and large provision of housing forms and on new types of urban housing.
There will be a large choice of different kinds of housing and homes in Hernesaari. In accordance with Helsinki City’s implementation programme for housing and related land use, there will be owner-occupied dwellings as well as rented dwellings – both free-market and social housing – and tenant-owner dwellings and price-regulated Hitas dwellings and, in addition, dwellings for students and senior citizens. In terms of tenure status classification, one-quarter will be social rented dwellings and 30 per cent Hitas dwellings or tenant-owner dwellings, the rest being unregulated owner-occupied or rented dwellings.
There will also be several construction projects in Hernesaari that try different housing models and concepts.
In terms of jobs and workplaces, Hernesaari will be a diverse extension of the job market of Inner Helsinki.
Hernesaari will typically have jobs in leisure- and tourism-related industries and in welfare services. Sites are allocated for concentrations of retail trade, leisure and water sports activities.
Shops in Hernesaari will be at street level along streets, squares and shores. Hernesaari partly relies on basic services already existing in nearby areas. Good retail sales of daily consumer goods and services in the area reduce residents’ need to go elsewhere for shopping or other services.
The most important services zones will be in northern Hernesaari and down by the marina in the southern part, as also in the housing blocks by the Hernesaarenranta shore, where restaurants will be located.
The cruise ship harbour, a marina, a water sports centre, a public beach, a public seashore sauna, a hotel and possible cultural amenities will draw customers from elsewhere, too. Creating the framework for a vital and eventful public realm, these functions will give Helsinki residents the opportunity to enjoy the presence of the sea.
The municipal public services planned in Hernesaari are an extension of the city’s service network. Access to services is guaranteed through smooth public, pedestrian or cycle transport. As planning proceeds, the services and solutions needed will be assessed. Public services such as day care centres and schools will be dimensioned to meet the needs in the area.
Connections for pedestrians and cyclists to the absolute city centre are smooth. Public transport in Hernesaari is based on a tram line.
Hernesaari will be a south-western extension of Inner Helsinki, with excellent connections to the absolute city centre both on foot, by bike or on tram. Tram services will be based on a tramway extension from Bulevardi avenue into Hernesaari.
Hernesaari lies within the main grid of bicycle lanes in Helsinki, and hence smooth and unobstructed passage for pedestrians and cyclist is provided in the area. In addition, possibilities of linking Hernesaari to the waterbus network are looked into.
There will be new shared footpaths/cycle paths at both Laivakatu street and the seaside park. They will form an extension to the lanes and paths running along the quays and shores of Inner Helsinki.
According to a traffic forecast, around 8,500 cars daily will frequent the streets of Hernesaari on workdays. The street grid in Hernesaari is planned with emphasis on traffic safety and smooth public transport. Laivakatu, the street that runs through the area from northeast to southwest, is the local thoroughfare that unites central Hernesaari with the surrounding street grid, and it is via Laivakatu that traffic enters into the residential streets.
Good connections for public transport, pedestrians and cyclists allows for smooth travel without a car, too. With the trams, the level of public transport will rise in the area. The new tram line will serve residents and visitors both in Hernesaari and the adjacent blocks of Inner Helsinki.
Buses and other heavier vehicles, too, will be entering Hernesaari, especially the street next to the harbour area, relating in summer to the cruise ships and in winter to the snow dump.
Parking for residents and business in Hernesaari is mainly placed beneath the yards in residential blocks. In addition, there will be two car parks allowing centralised parking and more efficient use of parking facilities.
Hernesaari will also be one of Helsinki City’s trial areas for market-driven parking. This pilot project temporarily disregards regulations on parking and tries a method for market-based parking in residential construction. The number of car parking spaces is not determined in the detailed local plan but, instead, developers may for themselves decide how many spaces to build.
Helsinki wants to consolidate its reputation as a popular cruise destination. Quays in Hernesaari are extended so as to allow simultaneous stay for three large cruise ships. Space for passenger services and buses is allocated in the harbour area and by the tourist walks in its vicinity. There will be smooth travel to Helsinki’s nearby city centre on foot or tram or, indeed, by bicycle. Planning in Hernesaari will account for the pedestrian flows and bus and services traffic that the cruise ships require.
In the harbour area, passages for pedestrians and services are put in place, as also bus lanes to cruise ships. In dimensioning the street area bordering the harbour, space has been allocated for a passenger gate at each berth and sufficient parking for passenger traffic vehicles. The harbour area can also be used for other port activities and, during the winter season, for the storage of boats.
At the southern tip of Hernesaari, a marina is planned. The idea is partly to have normal boat harbour activities, partly to be able to organise international regattas and to present and give training in water sports and boating. In addition, the marina will function as a guest harbour and provide the services required. In the seafront park of Hernesaari, there will be moorings for waterbus services and for boats desiring to use the commercial services in the area.
With the open sea, the sheltering islands and islets, the favourable wind conditions and not too big waves right off the city centre, Helsinki is one of the world’s best locations for regattas. In the sailing centre in Hernesaari, there will be opportunities for windsurfing, kitesurfing, dinghy sailing and other mainly non-motor water sports.