Oulu is a town tucked away at the furthest reaches of the Baltic Sea, just one hundred miles south of the Arctic Circle. But it is not the sleepy stopover one might expect. It is the city with the highest rate of economic growth in Finland. Consequently, there is a high demand for attractive, affordable housing. Toppilansaari, a peninsula between the Oulu harbor entrance and the open sea, is the site of the Finnish Housing Expo 2005. The housing is laid out as a sustainable pilot project. A green park forms a central core for the relatively spread-out housing elements.
The park provides convenient recreation and activity areas which help reduce the impact on the sensitive wetland habitat. It is also a storm-water system, where rainwater and spring snowmelt are collected, cleaned and slowly released to the wetlands.
Toppilansaari means ‘Park of the Young Sailor’ in Finnish. This name defined the programme of two land art installations which close the southern and northern ends of the park. In the southern garden, a conceptual, sunken boat is a memorial to all the young sailors who never returned to land. In the northern garden, a light ‘vortex’ is a landmark, visible like a lighthouse from far and wide.
This project was carried out by Atelier Dreiseitl, now member of the Ramboll Group.