Studio Bryan Hanes teamed up with StudioMB to enter Europan, a biennial competition with multiple project sites across Europe. For Europan14: Productive Cities, the studios selected Tornio-Haparanda as their site: two cities situated on the border between Finland and Sweden, a watery landscape dominated by the E4 highway.

The Engagement proposal focuses on re-negotiating the hierarchy of elements a border condition creates and questions the future of production. We decided not to let cars dictate the condition of the street, but rather have the pedestrian reclaim the landscape. Our proposed ring space embraces the border, softens the status of the road, and marries both sides together while the pattern of dispersal established by the ring has the potential to promote further growth out into both countries.

Through a subtle shift in the path of the E4 and a modification of its profile, we believe we can attract residents, visitors, tourists, and business. Strategically located knuckles at the intersection of the ring and boulevard act as gateways that invite visitors to explore the rest of the cities by highlighting shopping corridors on each side of the border.

The ring is a symbol of interconnectedness, unity and cooperation. As an object, it is an emphatic element embracing the border that showcases Tornio Haparanda’s relationship and exploits productivity in the urban environment. Upon crossing the threshold of the ring, pedestrians enter a green network of planted berry bushes, forage gardens, mown paths, and spontaneous vegetation. The varied paths of circulation promote use of the entire site in new ways.

The development of enclave-like blocks prompts small business and industry in the region. This incubator-like model emphasizes local productivity through collaboration at a smaller scale. We are proposing to group similar small factories in adjacent adaptable spaces. Here, resources can be shared at the interior of each block while the streetscape is opened up to visitors and patrons.

Essentially, this proposal brings to light the artificiality of the border condition. There is no hard line between these regions which share a deep cultural bond and respect for the natural environment. By uniting the sides through a ringed intervention, we highlight the focal point between the countries and marry the two sides into one cooperative space which completely obliterates that division. Finding a balance between the vehicle and the pedestrian, be they tourist or resident, is the key to the success of Tornio Haparanda.


Awards: Runner-up, Tornio-Haparanda site, Europan14

Architect: StudioMB