Kotka Old Port



Bringing the City Centre Back to the Sea

Kotka, is a city located 130km east of Helsinki and only 70km west of the Russian border. The wider Kotka-Hamina region is one of the largest seaports in Finland and Kotka itself has a proud marine history. It thrived for many decades from the timber and paper industry which occupied large areas of land south of the city centre. Many hectares of new land were generated when a sea wall was constructed around waste wood products that had been dropped back into the sea over a long period of time.

The timber industry has however undergone substantial changes over the past few decades – reducing the area required for production and a lot of the harbour functions were moved across to the new port – leaving a large part of the harbour territory available for storage and light industrial uses. The city of Kotka was keen to take advantage of the land and create a new public centre adjacent to the sea (their existing centre had no sea access).  They had already built a wonderful new Maritime Museum on the reclaimed land and held large maritime events attracting thousands of people every year.

A Masterplan for a Successful Mixed Use District

A masterplan for the site has been completed by AD-Studio for the remaining 22 hectares, which included a 2 phase retail outlet mall, 2 hotels, an entertainment complex, new residential buildings, new public squares with pedestrian and cycle routes, a marina, a bus terminus and all ancillary functions that are needed to create a vibrant 24 hour usable environment. The complete development was approx. 220,000 sqm in built area and is structured around a framework of landscaped promenades and walkways – all designed to connect the city with the new zone. The masterplan aimed to achieve BREEAM Communities certification ‘very good’ – only the second masterplan in Finland to attempt it. Ater two years of coordination with the city a zoning plan application was approved by the city of Kotka and served as the basis for the new development of the area. 

Fashion Retail to Serve International Visitors

Phase one of the project was to be the fashion outlet centre, which included the waterfront restaurant promenade, an indoor food court and a public outdoor event space.  The outlet mall sits between the existing Kotka city centre and the sea. The city facing and sea facing elevations of the mall have been designed to reflect the differences in their aspect and functions. The landscape and material treatment of the buildings within the complete masterplan gradually changes from a softer and greener environment on the southern edge to a harder more industrial ‘port like’ architecture facing the sea.

AD-Studio was also commissioned to be the lead architect, the interior designer and the landscape designer for the project. The scheme consists of 58 internal facing and 13 external facing retail units. There are a further 6 restaurants facing onto the sea. The outlet is designed as a linear mall with the loop encompassing the external retail units. The circulation is punctured with alternating small and large squares. A central food court has been designed within a bright winter garden whilst a large square to the east provides flexible space for fashions shows, concerts, and cultural events.

Modern Architecture out of Tradition

The retail outlet mall takes its design cues from the existing history of the site. Material references from the existing context have included steel (rail tracks and industrial sheds), timber (railway sleepers, timber frame and timber clad sheds), and port architecture (existing cranes, anchoring bollards). Another significant reference is the former use of the site by the timber industry with the strong aesthetic of tree trunks floating in random patterns in the sea on their way to the saw mill.

In 2016 the existing storage structures were demolished on site and the land was cleared for development.  The city on the meantime have started building a world class event arena and university complex on the plot within the AD-Studio masterplan.

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