Photographs: Pyry Kantonen Photography
The Tikkurila River Park is developing into an outdoor living room that is a green pair for the urban Tikkurila centre – the major district of Vantaa that is Finland’s third busiest railway station and is in constant renewal. The first phase of the Tikkurila River Park was opened to the public in June 2020. Developed from the design competition’s winning entry, “Oasis”, and the Park master plan, Phase 1 creates a new area called Åvik that includes a park with a playground and its river shore park.
Åvik River Reed Playground and river park
The River Reed Playground, officially named Åvik (å = river, vik = bay) is placed on a hill and surrounded by beautiful old trees. The theme of the playground comes from the surrounding nature. The cultural history of Tikkurila is also a supporting theme: the key attraction of the park is water play shaped like the River Keravanjoki which flows alongside. The iconic riverside buildings have their miniature versions next to the water play. At the water play, kids can try out how water dams work. The water is pumped groundwater.
Many elements and species of diverse river nature, including reeds, bugs, frogs, mussels as well as spider webs can be found in the Åvik playground. The playground equipment was chosen carefully to match the natural theme. A custom-made steel fence surrounds the playground with its reed inspired design.
The mussel-shaped play mounds bring the underwater world within everyone’s reach! These striped creatures got their form from endangered species of freshwater mussel, the thick-shelled river mussel that lives in Keravanjoki. This species plays an important role in the river ecosystem. The real mussels were picked and relocated downstream to safety before construction began.
The plan respects the history of the area and makes it visible playfully! The river water play has the old buildings and the bridges from the Tikkurila Park area made in granite. On them you can find the names and the building years.
Visitors to the river shore will be treated to a variety of new experiences including the ability to sit and dip your toes on the water seating stairs, have a picnic on the new wooden platforms, and admire the view from the viewing deck on the river. The pair of seating stairs that lead to the water have a real connection to the water. The lowest stairs are usually underwater. The stairs offer great views of the river.
From the viewing deck close to the old wooden buildings there is a chance to observe the water from higher up. The deck with seating is placed partly on the water and the views are to the old silk factory. A perfect spot for a picnic!
Lighting highlights nature
When the evening comes, the river shore changes into a magical place. The lighting design highlights the nature and the structures of the shore. The shore stairs with the seating decks on top are highlighted with LED lights. The big trees have their own lights.
The shore’s landmark is the new custom-made special light pole “At the roost” (in Finnish “Orrella”). This tree-shaped light pole is home to the light birds. These birds will stay throughout the winter and remind us of the summer.
Stormwater plays a key role in the design. New technology was implemented in the old stormwater pipe that collects stormwater from a 25-hectare area of the Tikkurila centre. A sand-bio coal filter holds and cleanses the water at the end of the pipe. The pipe and the filter system are hidden underneath a viewing deck. This underground system was built in very demanding circumstances in the challenging river soil. Now visitors will never guess how much water is being cleaned underneath the deck. Nevertheless, soon this will change, since there will be new information signs coming to the shore that explain about the cleaning system.
The playground and the river shore were built in demanding conditions. The soil is sinking and the river floods. The construction of the park demanded heavy groundworks: the majority of the area is stabilised by pillars, and for the building foundations the soil needed to be replaced, filled, and lightened. The stairs and the viewing deck on top of the stormwater pipe on the river shore were founded with piles that are drilled into the bedrock.
The work included a variety of special structure designs: a unique steel fence, a custom-made tree light pole, the concrete gutter for the water play and the structures by the water. The changing water levels and the ice burden were considered in the design.
Project name: Tikkurila waterfront, Åvik area – Phase one: River reed playground and park
Office: LOCI Landscape Architects Ltd
Role of the office in the project: Landscape architect
Project category: schools and playgrounds
Video of the project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0i1oeljKNY
Project location: Tikkurilantie 40, 01300 Vantaa, Finland
Client: City of Vantaa
Completion: Phase one 2020