Hovirinta beach in Kaarina is the most important public beach near the city center. It is also a venue for a festival attracting around 20 000 visitors every summer. The beach has been renovated to be a relaxed, urban setting which allows access to the waterfront and water for all.
A long and wide pier path runs through the site directing one’s gaze towards the long view along Kuusistonsalmi strait. The pier frames the shoreline and forms a continuous edge dividing different functions from each other. The piers between the open plaza and the marina provide hangout spaces and access to berths. The beach side transforms into a deck with raised edges for seating.
The beach is divided in three parts: venue, restaurant area and shoreline. The venue in the west opens to the sea. The beach is open and active: the plaza is surrounded by the berths, guest dock, boat landing and other port functions. At the east side are the swimming piers, beach volley court and picnic area.
The vegetation consists of groups of trees, lawn and meadows and allow open views to the sea. Bushes and grasses planted in wavy stripes mark the edges of open spaces. Native species, such as buckthorn, were favored. Stormwater is collected in vegetated trenches to cleanse the runoff to the sea.
The plaza and the restaurant front are covered with concrete pavement. The sandlike color of the paving highlights the ribbon-like route. Lighting was also re-designed to match and emphasize the new construction. Parking lot was reorganized, and more parking spots were added to match the area’s need.
In future a new restaurant and sauna building will be constructed at the center of the area. The facility will also have outdoor showers for swimmers. The building will be part of the landscape with accessible ramps and staggered wooden terrace.
The development of the Hovirinta beach has been an important major project for the city, showing that also small cities can profile themselves with quality landscape design and lively outdoor spaces. The public beach has significant social aspects: the city has about 140 km of shoreline, but most of it is are privately owned.
The design diversifies the use of an urban beach and invites people to the shore. Piers present the shore in a new way embracing the magnificent setting at the Kuusistonsalmi strait. The design enables access to the beach for all and makes the beach more disabled-friendly than before. A former car park with asphalt and worn out lawn is replaced by cozy decks and diverse plantings, creating spaces for leisure by the water.
The clear structure of the area provides space for the diverse users and serves as a scene for different functions: boaters, festival visitors, swimmers, outdoor recreation, cyclers and skaters. Also redesigning of the lighting improves the year-round use of the area.
The material choices were guided by sustainability. The structures, including the piles supporting the wooden pier, are made of local timber and natural stones found on the site are used in the planting areas.
The species-rich plantings enhance the biodiversity and the runoff water is now cleansed by vegetated trenches. The meadows and diversified plantings not only attract people but also fits the city’s aim to diversify the local grassland biotopes. Judging from the comments published in different social media platforms, people have been inspired by the beauty of natural materials and species represented in context of constructed landscape. The simple design of built elements merged into the wider landscape and the softening planted zones in between, aim to endure time and allow observing the seasonal and yearly changes of the surroundings.
In collaboration with
Sipti Oy / Ossi Rintala (geological, construction and HVAC designer), Sitowise Oy / Tommi Järvinen (electrical design)
Uimarannantie 56, Kaarina, Finland