So Haaga is back in the picture! During our last autumn’s Studio I course, I focused on historical turning points of Haaga. In this course, we are using CityEngine software to develop something new in the area. In the process, we become familiar with rule-based modelling. I am using my previous knowledge gathered about Haaga for this exercise, as well.
Picture 1: An illustrative model of the “new” Haaga Market Hall in Haagan tori. The building currently sits in Hakaniemi as a temporary structure, while the historical market hall is being renovated.Haagan tori (Haaga square) used to host many market stalls (it does feature them still today, but on a much less regular basis). Southern Haaga is a suburb with a untypically urban-like economic structure, with many small shops lining the streets. It could possibly sustain a market hall, then, considering that Haaga residents are quite wealthy and there isn’t a hypermarket in the vicinity.
Of course, in the heart of the historically independent Haaga borough, not just any structure is worthy for Haagan tori. I suggest a solution that has already been approved by the quality-conscious consumers of Helsinki. Let’s move the temporary market hall from Hakaniemi to this quiet suburban square and bring it to life!
The plan would have multiple upsides. The temporary market hall has exceeded all its expectations in its current location, as shopping is made comfortable among the light and spacious aisles. The unassuming architecture of the structure would blend in nicely to the suburban environment.
Also, the project would be cheap, as the current market hall needs just to be reassembled, transported and reassembled in a very similar surface that it’s currently standing on. Upgrading and replacing some surfaces of the temporary building shouldn’t be too expensive. The best thing is, that if Haaga residents prove to be difficult to charm, the whole thing can be disassembled again and sent to the next suburb!
My second idea less polished, but it has at least as much potential as the first one. It was inspired by the name of the location I suggest to be developed, Strömstadinpuisto (Strömstad park). I was curious about the name and found out that Strömstad is a coastal community of about 8,000 in western Sweden. It used to be a sister town of Haaga borough some seventy years ago. To this day, there is a memorial commemorating local children who were sent to Strömstad for the duration of the Second World War.
Unfortunately, the current condition of the park doesn’t make justice for its proud history. Only a small corner of the park is used, the rest has overgrown into uninviting bushes. Also, the buildings next to the park are a relatively recent addition: in their place grew once a similar, swampy forest.
I looked on how Helsinki currently plans to develop Haaga and found this project of restoring the 90-year old former school into apartments (which is also a very interesting project!). That is encouraged by a promise of building new apartment houses to another corner of Strömstadinpuisto. This would confirm to me that the location indeed has potential.
Perhaps it might be worth thinking of a building a small suburban centre there, maybe a small-town type main street lined with boutiques? A piece of the spirit of Strömstad might just be what this sleepy corner of Haaga needs!
More info in the project being developed around Strömstadinpuisto: (in Finnish)