Frequently asked questions: South Harbour and Makasiiniranta

The objective of the Makasiiniranta competition is to develop the area as part of the expanding pedestrian city centre and the seaside trail around the shores of Helsinki, and as a location for the new Architecture and Design Museum. Launched in May 2021, the two-phase Makasiiniranta quality and concept competition is intended for both Finnish and international operators, or consortia of operators, in the construction and real estate industry. Entries for the second phase will be displayed for comments on the Voice Your Opinion service between 4 July and 31 August 2022.

Quality and concept competition

Is the competition open to all?

The two-phase Makasiiniranta quality and concept competition is intended for both Finnish and international operators, or consortia of operators, in the construction and real estate industry who have the technical, financial and other prerequisites to design and realise a particularly challenging and high-quality construction project along the western shore of Helsinki’s South Harbour bay. One of the requirements for participation in the competition was the professional competence of the participating group – the references of the representatives of different fields in the competition group had to match the requirement level of the site. The competition group had to appoint a project director, chief architect, landscape architect and traffic planner.

The competition began with the participant approval phase. Nine groups met the competitor eligibility requirements and have been approved as participants in the competition. Some of Finland’s largest and most international architects’ offices are involved, as well as a few well-known international offices.

When will the winner be announced?

The results of the competition will be announced in November-December 2022. The winning group will continue planning the area as partnership planning in collaboration with the City. The competition winner will also serve as the implementer of the plots to be formed on the basis of the competition entry. The City Council will later decide on the implementation agreement and approving the detailed plan created for the area.

On what grounds have some competitors been rejected?

The rejected competition groups did not meet the minimum requirements set out in the competition programme.  Some of the design groups did not find sufficient funding or an implementer for the construction. References were also requested for implementation, and it turned out that some groups had no proof of demanding implementation targets.

Why is the competition in English? 

The Makasiiniranta competition area is a unique part of the maritime facade of Helsinki. The South Harbour as a whole is an important and well-known place nationwide and very interesting on an international scale. The goal was to get the highest-quality competition entries and best participants to Makasiiniranta. The aim was to make the competition as attractive as possible for international operators in the field.

The idea is to create a high level of international visibility for the Architecture and Design Museum and the related architectural competition to be held later. English was chosen as the competition language in order to give international parties as equal opportunities as possible to participate in the competition. In addition to international competition groups, the competition also includes a Swiss architect as a jury member.

The different phases of the Makasiiniranta competition and the opportunities for participation are communicated in English, Finnish and Swedish. In addition to English, the material to be seen and commented on can also be viewed in Finnish. The Makasiiniranta competition pages are in Finnish and English.

Interaction and involvement

How is interaction in the Makasiiniranta competition organised?

The planning of the area is interactive, and the opportunities for participation are widely communicated at different phases of the planning and competition. The planning material of Makasiiniranta and Olympiaranta can be viewed it the Helsinki Map Service 

The interaction process started in accordance with normal planning practice with the participation and evaluation plan in January 2021. City residents were asked for their ideas and views on the planning principles for Makasiiniranta and Olympiaranta that were on display from 25 January to 12 February 2021. In the survey, city residents left 629 comments (in Finnish), which can be viewed on the Voice your opinion service

Views were sought on the key elements guiding the planning of the area – the themes were the valuable environment and landscape of the South Harbour bay, principles related to traffic, such as the pedestrian environment and the continuity of the seaside trail, and the technical starting points of the area, high-quality and sustainable new construction and public spaces. The views of the city residents have been taken into account as part of the drafting of the planning principles, as they guide the planning and the concept and planning competition for the area.

The Urban Environment Committee approved the planning principles for Makasiiniranta and the competition programme drawn up on the basis of them on 13 April 2021.

When will the competition entries be on display?

The proposals were submitted under pseudonyms and put on public display following the end of the first phase of the competition. Competitors had the possibility to submit more than one competition entry. At the turn of the year, the nine entries for the first phase of the Makasiiniranta competition were publicly available for viewing and comments on the Voice your opinion service. The feedback received was utilised in the evaluation of the entries.

City residents made over 800 comments on the entries for the jury to consider. In the discussion, many of the entries received praise for the quality of the seaside boulevards and public outdoor spaces – this was seen as a particularly important part of the planning process. Concerns were also raised, such as the future of the views from Tähtitorninvuori, the height of the buildings and the quality of the façades.

The jury has selected the four best entries for the second phase of the competition: Ahti, Boardwalk, Makasiinipromenadi and Saaret.

In the evaluation of the entries, special attention will be paid to the cityscape-related quality of the plans, the functionality and feasibility of the concept, the quality of the pedestrian environment and the urban space, and solutions that promote the implementation of the Carbon-neutral Helsinki 2035 programme, as well as how the new Architecture and Design Museum, the Old Market Hall and the harbour buildings are taken into consideration as part of the area to be developed.

The four teams selected to participate in the second stage of the international Makasiiniranta quality and concept competition have completed their revised competition proposals. Entitled Ahti, Boardwalk, Makasiinipromenadi and Saaret, the proposals will be displayed for comments on the Voice Your Opinion service until 31 August 2022.  

Landscape values and views

Will the values of the national landscape in the South Harbour, future usage possibilities of the shore area and the dignity of the site chosen for the new museum be lost through intensive new construction?

The planning principles for Makasiiniranta and Olympiaranta define the maximum building heights and the views to be preserved from Tähtitorninvuori through the city blocks to the South Harbour Bay. The volume of construction has been examined in the space allocation and guideline plan for Makasiiniranta and Olympiaranta. The document is the starting point of the competition and guides the planning of the area.

Does the construction of Makasiiniranta block the important views from Tähtitorninvuori towards the Empire-style city centre and Katajanokka?

The planning principles define the maximum height of new construction, which is below the height of Tähtitorninvuori. The new construction allowed by the competition will not hide Tähtitorninvuori or block important views to the national landscape and the South Harbour Bay water mirror from the Tähtitorninvuori viewpoint. The design principles and competition programme require the preservation of the view axes.

How are the conservation goals, characteristics and marine potential taken into account in the Makasiiniranta competition?

For the basis of the planning of Makasiiniranta and Olympiaranta, planning principles have been prepared. They were approved by the Urban Environment Committee at its meeting on 13 April 2021.

With regard to the cultural environment and landscape, the planning principles include the following principles:

  • The significance and identity of the area as part of a nationally significant national landscape and valuable cultural environment will be taken into account in the planning.
  • The aim is to preserve the character of the maritime facade of the area.
  • The values of the environment and its relationship with the existing environment will be taken into account in the planning solution.
  • The views of the sea and the city from Tähtitorninvuori will be preserved.
  • The silhouette of Tähtitorninvuori will continue to rise above the roofs of the building masses.
  • Street views end with the sea.
  • New construction takes into account the street views of Laivasillankatu.
  • The values of protected and culturally and historically valuable buildings are taken into account in the planning.

Read more about the planning principles in Chapter 2.

Historical and landscape studies will be prepared as planning progresses. The construction of a valuable national landscape and a buffer zone of a World Heritage Site requires extensive research.

Coastal zone

Will there be enough space for public functions and cycling and pedestrian traffic in the coastal zone?

The design principles and competition programme emphasise the continuity of the seaside trail and the provision of sufficient space for pedestrians and cyclists. The aim of the competition is to build a coastal area that serves all kinds of users and is cosy and lively 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The competition programme also seeks non-commercial activities for the area.

Port operations will remain in the area, as will part of the ISPS area (International Ship and Port Facility Security Code), which restricts the use of the shore as a seaside trail. In this area, the seaside trail is a connection near the shore.

How will it be ensured that the coastal area does not become shady and windy?

The competitors take these issues into account in their entries, as the task of designers is to design the most comfortable environment possible.

The Makasiiniranta area is windy today, as are almost all the shores of Helsinki. Due to the northern location of Helsinki, the city is also affected by strong south-west winds, the sun is quite low, creating long shadows, and the amount of light varies considerably in different seasons.

What kind of buildings are planned to be built in the area?

A building site for the new Architecture and Design Museum must be assigned within the competition area, so cultural activities will be strongly present in Makasiiniranta. In accordance with the concept competition, hotel and office buildings may also be proposed for the area. Port operations in the form of waterway transport services will remain in Makasiiniranta. The competition programme requires various services at the pedestrian level, such as restaurants, cafés, exhibition spaces, recreational facilities and diverse services that open onto the street space, enlivening the urban and maritime area.

New buildings with new workplaces will bring more visitors to the area on weekdays. At the moment, for example, the Market Square and the Old Market Hall suffer from a lack of customers, as offices are mostly located in other areas of the city centre. The Market Hall and Market Square have become a trinket market serving mainly tourists.

In the evaluation of the entries, the jury pays particular attention to the location of invigorating activities in the area and to how the various services support the activities of the Architecture and Design Museum.

Can exhibition and research centres be built on the shore?

Yes, it is possible within the framework of competition. In addition to the Architecture and Design Museum, it would be quite natural to assign other cultural activities to the area. Activities that raise the profile of the area and serve the needs of all Helsinki residents and other visitors are welcome.

Suomenlinna buffer zone, protection issues

What kind of cultural environmental surveys are being prepared for the area?

The environmental history survey of Makasiiniranta and Olympiaranta is under preparation and will be completed in early 2022. The building history survey of Olympia Quay will be completed at the end of 2021.

Some of the reports can only be drawn up once the planning solution on the basis of which the area will be developed has been selected. According to the Finnish Heritage Agency, one report to be prepared is the Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA), which assesses the impact of construction on the values of the Suomenlinna World Heritage Site.

How has the buffer zone of the Suomenlinna World Heritage Site been taken into account in the planning?

Suomenlinna is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Makasiiniranta competition area is located in its buffer zone. The definition of the content of the buffer zone is still ongoing.

An agreement between the City of Helsinki and the State of Finland was drawn up in 1976. According to this, the city draws up the town plan for Suomenlinna. The building stock of Suomenlinna and some landscape areas have been the subject of a protection decision in accordance with the Act on the Protection of the Built Heritage. The area is also a historical site. Suomenlinna is one of the most protected areas in Finland, and its characteristics are protected in many ways by local legislation.

The zoning of the Suomenlinna buffer zone is being prepared by the Finnish Heritage Agency in cooperation with the Governing Body of Suomenlinna. The city will participate in the preparation after the Finnish Heritage Agency has prepared a preliminary report.

How will the city and the state fulfil their obligations under the World Heritage Convention?

 Protection is provided by national legislation. The town plan being prepared for Suomenlinna will contribute to the implementation of this obligation.

Property development and land ownership

Is Makasiiniranta a property development site of the city?

According to the Helsinki City Strategy, the coastal zone that extends from Olympia Terminal to the Market Square is being developed with the aim of transforming the area into a cohesive entity that supports the vitality of the city centre. The competition is seeking different options to achieve this goal.

Why is the city selling the land in Makasiiniranta to a private investor?

The city will retain ownership of the street areas and squares, public areas and public coastal zone. The transfer of the plots to the private party will take place after the planning. According to the city strategy, the city plays a major role in defining the boundary conditions for partnership planning.

The landscape of the South Harbour has a very large number of privately owned plots. The facade of the west shore consists almost exclusively of private property. The value of the national landscape has never been dependent on the ownership base, so the sale of the land in Makasiiniranta is not a risk from this point of view. The city has a planning monopoly, and the cityscape and the quality of construction are monitored regardless of the owner. According to the terms of the competition, the purchase of future plots of land will only be possible once the project and the buildings have been completed.

Architecture and Design Museum

Why does the Architecture and Design Museum have to be part of the Makasiiniranta competition?

The competition seeks an overall plan for the area in which the museum will be built. However, the Makasiiniranta competition does not seek an implementer or a building plan for the museum, only a location for the museum building. The plot allocated to the museum is not included in the area handed over to the winner of the quality and concept competition.

A separate architectural competition will be organised for the Architecture and Design Museum.

Can a real estate investor later build the museum plot full of buildings?

The Architecture and Design Museum is designated as the northernmost building of Makasiiniranta, and there will be a large waterfront square in front of it. The museum will also form a visible facade towards the Market Square, and it will be in a very visible location in terms of cityscape.

The plot allocated to the museum is not included in the area handed over to the winner of the quality and concept competition.

Port centralisation scenario

Where will the ship traffic move from the South Harbour and why?

In line with the City Council’s policy (02/2021), the Port of Helsinki development programme is based on the centralisation of cruiseferry traffic to and from Tallinn to the West Harbour, allowing the ferries operating to Sweden to be moved from the South Harbour to Katajanokka. This will free up a large area in the South Harbour for other use. The Makasiiniranta area will be developed as part of the pedestrian city centre and the seaside trail around the shores of Helsinki, and as a location for the new Architecture and Design Museum. The arrangement requires additional terminal space at both the West Harbour and Katajanokka and making land traffic through the West Harbour smoother through a harbour tunnel leading to Länsiväylä. The West Harbour area will also be also extended through earth fill.

Is the West Harbour tunnel necessary and who will pay for it?

The investments in the port development programme are interlinked, as the arrangements in one part of the port affect other parts. The first step is to increase the capacity of the West Harbour in order to centralise all Tallinn cruiseferry traffic there.

The tunnel from the West Harbour to Länsiväylä allows for the expansion of the port’s operations. All lorry traffic passing through the port will be transferred to the tunnel, as will passenger car traffic to the west of the port. The tunnel will be implemented as the port company’s own investment, and it will be a property managed by the port. The tunnel will be financed by revenue collected in the form of port charges.

The construction is expected to start in the mid-2020s and to be completed in 2027. If necessary, the tunnel can be extended later in connection with the development of Salmisaari.

What is the future of the Katajanokka terminal?

When the Tallinn traffic is transferred from Katajanokka to the West Harbour, all the ferries operating to Stockholm will fit in Katajanokka. However, a new terminal is needed, as the ferries operating to Sweden have a large passenger capacity and are on the move at the same. The traffic between Stockholm and Helsinki is operated by leaving in the afternoon and arriving in the morning. This will lead to the need for more space at Katajanokka.

It is currently being investigated whether K8, the current terminal in Katajanokka, should be renovated and expanded or replaced with a completely new one. K8 is protected in the town plan.

Will there be any ship traffic left at Makasiiniranta?

The South Harbour is preparing for a temporary operation of traffic to St Petersburg in the middle of the decade, when a new terminal replacing T1 will be built in the West Harbour. The red brick Makasiini Terminal will be demolished to be replaced by temporary facilities for the ships operating to St Petersburg. The St Petersburg traffic is estimated to be operated from the South Harbour from 2023 to 2026 and will return to the West Harbour when the new premises there are complete.

In the South Harbour, berths will remain for international cruise traffic. There will also be a reservation for Makasiini Quay to develop high-speed vessel traffic. This would enable traffic that benefits from access from one city centre to another. The remaining maritime traffic in the South Harbour will have in common the fact that there will be no cars on board the ships.

Cruise ships do not need terminal facilities of the current scale. In them, boarding takes place directly from the quay level. Due to the restrictions posed by the Kustaanmiekka strait, the South Harbour can accommodate vessels up to 230 metres, which is roughly the size of Silja Line’s ferries operating to Sweden. Larger cruise ships will fit in Hernesaari. There will possibly be only one place for cruise traffic on the Katajanokka side.

What will happen to the port buildings in the South Harbour?

The Port of Helsinki will give up all the buildings in the South Harbour, including the yellow brick Olympia Terminal and Satamatalo. They are protected buildings, but their purpose of use will change.

Read more about the topic on the Makasiiniranta competition page at


Updated 30.6.2022