The Helsinki East Urban Centre area is already a traffic and commercial hub for tens of thousands of people every day. Nevertheless, in its current form it misses a lot of its potential as a true vibrant downtown area which offers a diverse neighbourhood full or character, opportunities for business and livelihood as well as sustainable and attractive housing.
The main areas which call for development and renewal are pedestrian connections and walkability; bringing the large commercial spaces closer together and making them more accessible; and finally, changing the monotonous, car-dominated commercial area into a neighbourhood with more human-scale urban atmosphere.
The main solution offered by CROSSBLOCKS is densification of the area, mainly with residential buildings, to liven up the neighbourhood and to create a stronger social control and ownership of the public and semi-public spaces. A larger resident population will support the existing shops and services and help to create new ones.
Another way of increasing the urban vibe is creating more Street instead of wide, car-dominated highways and parking lots. Street means a human-scale space that is surrounded by buildings with diverse functions, with trees and greenery; where people can stroll, shop, skateboard or socialize. The Street is also brought to Itäväylä, with narrower lanes, lower speed, trees and new level crossings for pedestrians and cyclists across the major road.
CROSSBLOCKS also proposes to connect the Itis and Easton shopping centres where their distance is the shortest with a new indoor bridge over Itäväylä and through a new commercial building. The connecting building is a part of a new central block which patches up the spatial and functional gap between Itis and Itäväylä. With commercial spaces, services, a residential block and pedestrian areas between them, it becomes the new landmark and centre point of the whole area.