Developing Merihaka has become a pressing matter due to changes in the environment and private landowners’ interest in developing their plots and properties. Because of this, the City has begun the process of changing the detailed plan for the area in cooperation with local operators. Due to the distinctive architecture and urban structure of Merihaka, the area is being examined as a whole instead of individual projects. Planning principles pertaining to the entire Merihaka area will be established to serve as the basis for the upcoming planning work.
Viljelylaatikoita Merihaassa.

The planning principles will steer the changes to the detailed plan for the area and, by extension, the development of the area. The principles will highlight aspects such as the special characteristics of the area and designate locations to be preserved in the whole, as well as any places in need of development.

Share your opinion online or at events

A proposal for the planning principles can be commented on in an online survey open from 29 April to 26 May 2024 at leads to external service). You can also watch a short presentation video on the proposal on the Kerro kantasi website.

You can also explore potential alternatives with the help of a city model(Link leads to external service).  

Pop-up events will also be held in Merihaka, enabling you to look into the proposal together with the planners. You can meet the planners at Kylätupa in Merihaka at the address Haapaniemenkatu 14 at the following times: 

  • Wednesday 15 May at 16.00–19.00
  • Thursday 16 May at 11.00–14.00.

The matter of developing Merihaka was brought up by private landowners who wished to develop the area and the properties therein. From the City’s perspective, developing the area is justified due to urban infill and changes to the surrounding urban structure and traffic arrangements.

Developing Merihaka also conforms to the objectives of the Helsinki City Plan 2016. The development work will connect Merihaka to the change taking place in its surroundings, improve the services of the area and densify the existing urban structure. Although the City wishes to develop the area, the City cannot develop or build on privately owned land. 

The development of Merihaka

  1. Spring 2021

    The matter of developing Merihaka was brought up by private landowners who wished to develop the area and the properties therein. 

    The City decided to establish planning principles for the area to steer planning on individual plots in the plan change phase.  

  2. Spring 2022

    The early stages of the development work were presented at an online event that provided a situation update on the thoughts of local residents and operators in Merihaka. You can find the presentation materials for the evening in Finnish via the links below:

    Etnografinen tutkimus Merihaan alueen erityispiirteistä ja tulevaisuudesta (‘Ethnographical Survey on the Special Characteristics and Future of the Merihaka Area’, Kenno Anthropological Consulting, 2021)

    Merihaka, kaupunkirakenne- ja ympäristöhistoriaselvitys (‘Merihaka, Urban Structure and Environmental History Report’, Okulus, 2020)

    Presentation materials of the event (City of Helsinki, 2022) 

  3. Autumn 2022

    Alternative scenarios regarding the future of Merihaka were on display and could be commented on in an online survey and via an OpenCities Planner city model. The alternative scenarios were preliminary ideas regarding how the Merihaka area could potentially be developed. Three scenarios that differ from each other in terms of the extent and location of the development were presented in OpenCities Planner. A three-day pop-up event was also held in the area. The event provided residents and the parties involved an opportunity to familiarise themselves with the plans and talk with the planners of the area. 

    Comments and ideas received at the pop-up event and via the survey regarding the development of Merihaka were utilised in the creation of the planning principles. The planning principle work also involved examining the peripheral sections of the area and how the area was connected to the rest of the urban structure.

    You can find the idea plan regarding the peripheral areas and the survey regarding the development of Merihaka in Finnish via the links below:

    Merihaan reuna-alueet – julkisten ulkotilojen ideasuunnitelma (‘Peripheral Areas of Merihaka – Idea Plan for Public Outdoor Facilities’, Masu Planning, 2022)

    Merihaan kehittämiseen liittyvän kyselyn sekä tilaisuuksien havainnoinnin raportointi (‘Report on the Survey Regarding the Development of Merihaka and Observations Made at Events’, Miltton Oy, 2022) 

  4. Spring 2024

    A proposal regarding the planning principles is on display and can be commented on in a Kerro kantasi survey.  

  5. Autumn 2024

    The planning principles are processed by the Urban Environment Committee. 

Frequently asked questions: Merihaka

Read frequently asked questions about Merihaka, organised by theme. The questions are from the resident survey regarding Merihaka (2022). 

Who is the landowner of the area?

Merihaka was built by the developer and construction company Helsingin Asuntokeskuskunta Haka between 1973 and 1986. The plots of Merihaka are privately owned, with the exception of a Foundation for Student Housing in the Helsinki Region (HOAS) plot owned by the City of Helsinki. In this context, private ownership refers to land and/or buildings that are not owned by the City or the state. 

The image shows the areas owned by the City of Helsinki in green and City-owned rental areas in Merihaka in green diagonal stripes.
The image shows the areas owned by the City of Helsinki in green and City-owned rental areas in Merihaka in green diagonal stripes.

Land ownership

Streets and marina – City of Helsinki 
Hakaniemenranta 12 – City of Helsinki 
Parking garage plots, play park and playground – Merihaka Oy 
Other plots – other private owners

What are the different operators responsible for in the area?

The City of Helsinki is responsible for the detailed planning of the area, as well as street and park planning. The City owns the streets and water areas of the area, the Merihaka marina and the HOAS building plot at the address Hakaniemenranta 12. The civil defence centre of Merihaka is another facility administrated by the City.

Helsingin Merihaka Oy is a maintenance company owned by real estate and housing companies in the Merihaka area. Helsingin Merihaka Oy is primarily responsible for its owners’ property management and maintenance services. Merihaka Oy owns the parking garages at Haapaniemenkatu 10 and Hakaniemenranta 10.

What does the so-called contract for deck construction stipulate?

The City of Helsinki does not have detailed information about agreements made between the housing companies involved and Merihaka Oy. 

Why is there a need for more construction in the Merihaka area?

A stop for the Crown Bridges light rail route from Laajasalo to the city centre via Hakaniemi will also be built on the southern side of Merihaka. Areas freed up from traffic areas and shore infilling projects will facilitate densification of the local urban structure. The urban structure will be densified along Hakaniemenranta between the street and the water area, where infilling will be carried out. The new detailed plan for Hakaniemi entered into force in 2021. 

The Hakaniemi detailed plan covers the areas between the shore and Hakaniemenranta, as well as the current ramp areas between Sörnäisten rantatie and Hakaniemi Bridge. The new bridge will be lower than the current one, and it will be connected to the street network on the same level without a need for ramps. This will facilitate converting the existing ramp areas for other uses. As the shore and the ramp areas become a built area, Merihaka will also be integrated into the inner city-like environment of Hakaniemi. 

New construction is also being planned between Sörnäisten rantatie and the Suvilahti shore. The detailed plan solution will allow for supplementing the urban structure of the area with residential and business blocks, as well as a parking facility. New construction will bring more services to the area, as well as a pedestrian and leisure time area to the shore.  

The development of Merihaka involves thinking about the possibilities of the area. Both of the parking facilities of the area are in very poor condition. Without extensive renovation efforts, the facilities can soon become so dilapidated that their further use would be dangerous. This renovation work would be sizeable and costly. Rearranging the current underground parking spaces and changing their size would facilitate planning and designing new buildings to replace the parking garages and designating new purposes for the location. 

Moderately increasing the local population would guarantee the preservation of services in the area. The objective is to improve the service selection of Merihaka, not undermine it. 

The City has also received some enquiries about the prospect of supplementing the plots of the Merihaan Pallohalli ball game hall, the adjacent business property and Merihaka Tower. These enquiries were submitted by property owners. 

Merihaka and its surroundings are designated as inner city development area C2 in the City Plan 2016: 

“Developed as a functionally mixed area of housing, commercial and public services, offices, administration, parks, recreational and outdoor services and urban culture. Ground floor premises and premises that open onto the street should be preferably designated as retail or office space. Changes to the uses of buildings or their parts must ensure that they preserve the functionally diverse and mixed structure that is characteristic of the city centre, as well as the sufficient availability of retail and office space. Changes to intended uses must include an area assessment. Sustainable modes of transport, particularly pedestrian and bicycle traffic, will be favoured. In the areas bordering on city boulevards, the block density should primarily exceed 1.8 and, along key streets, ground floor premises and premises that open onto the street should be primarily designated as retail or office space.” 

The development of the Merihaka area is steered by both the City Plan and the City Strategy. The plot owner has the right to survey the prospects for construction on their own plot. 

The City’s aim is to facilitate complementary construction in the Merihaka area to the extent that the local cultural environment values and special characteristics can be preserved. For example, the complementary construction can involve minor housing company-specific changes or entirely new apartment buildings to replace the old parking garages.  

How will residents benefit from the complementary construction?

  • The housing company can utilise the complementary construction to partially cover procedures such as pipe or facade renovations.
  • The parking facilities will be renovated.
  • The public areas will be restored.
  • The area will gain more residents and services.
  • The area will gain a more diverse range of services.
  • The value of the apartments will increase.
  • The local public transport connections will improve. 

How will the spaciousness and the landscape of the area be preserved in the construction project?

The views from Merihaka and the spaciousness of the environment are bound to change due to the complementary construction. However, they are an important aspect of the planning principles for Merihaka that steer the planning of the complementary construction. The City created these planning principles in cooperation with residents, local operators, the City Museum, the Urban Environment Division’s Technical and Economic Planning unit, and other parties. 

If buildings are constructed by the bridge, will people continue to have a view to Kruununhaka?

There will be one residential block on the eastern side of the bridge, meaning that the view will remain mostly unchanged. There will not be any buildings in front of Hakaniemenranta 14 and 16. A park area with access to water has been planned in front of the buildings. 

Will there be more green areas?

Residents have indicated that they would like more green areas and places for lounging in the area. The complementary construction may lead to reduced green areas, e.g. on yard decks. However, green areas are an important part of the urban structure and people’s living environment, and this will be taken into account in the planning principles. 

The future of the eastern shore of Merihaka is also being examined as part of the development of the area. Places for lounging have been preliminarily planned to be built there. 

A park is currently being planned by Kotisatama, on the eastern side of Hakaniemi Bridge. Kirjanpuisto Park will be restored and developed on the southern side of Hakaniemi Bridge. 

How will the maritime feel of the area be developed?

The objective of Helsinki’s maritime strategy is to improve and increase the city’s marine connections, seaside trails, piers and bases, and to promote maritime entrepreneurship. The planning of the complementary construction involves thinking about how the maritime feel of Merihaka could be increased further on its shores, for example. 

Can the development of the area be focused on the outer zone of the area, i.e. the shore area?

The best possible solution for the area will be surveyed as the process goes along. Different alternatives and scenarios will be examined together with the City’s different departments, owners, and residents and operators. 

Will the sea area east of Pannukakunpuisto be infilled?

The traffic arrangements will change, and the space freed up from traffic on the north side of Pannukakunpuisto will be used for complementary construction and public shore space. Pannukakunpuistikko will be reduced in size from the north. The shore area will be expanded so that public space can be built on the shore for passage, recreation and lounging. 

The materials regarding Hakaniemi Bridge and the Crown Bridges feature illustrative images of buildings on the shore. Have decisions been made regarding these buildings? 

The detailed plan for Hakaniemenranta entered into force in 2021, so yes, the decision has been made. The work on Hakaniemi Bridge has already begun and is expected to be completed in 2025. The construction of the buildings can begin after that. 

Will the sea area by Sörnäisten rantatie be infilled? 

The sea will be infilled on the eastern side of Sörnäisten rantatie to provide space between the road and shore for new residential blocks and a new public shore area. No infilling of the sea area has been planned on the eastern side of Merihaka. 

Are there any illustrative images from the eastern side of the new bridge in Kruununhaka towards Merihaka?

The Crown Bridges website at leads to external service) features plenty of information about the construction of the bridges and roads. These images are from there. 

The new Hakaniemi Bridge will be lower than the current bridge (Crown Bridges)
The new Hakaniemi Bridge will be lower than the current bridge (Crown Bridges)
Hakaniemenranta at the Sörnäisten rantatie intersection. A view towards the east. The Hakaniemi Bridge junction is on the right and the current buildings of Merihaka are in the background on the left (Crown Bridges)
Hakaniemenranta at the Sörnäisten rantatie intersection. A view towards the east. The Hakaniemi Bridge junction is on the right and the current buildings of Merihaka are in the background on the left (Crown Bridges)

How are children taken into account in the planning?

Children’s living conditions and local environment are of the utmost importance. Children’s needs are being taken into consideration in the planning work.

Is liveability being taken into account in the development of Merihaka and its surroundings?

Liveability is being taken into account. The aim is to both preserve and create a pleasant living environment. A Place for Growth – Helsinki City Strategy 2021–2025 supports this as well. Unfortunately, construction noise will be an unavoidable nuisance, but it will be temporary. 

What kinds of services will the area feature?

One aim of the complementary construction is to secure at least the current service level. Due to the additional construction, new residents and other users of the area will create more demand for different services. 

Will there be a public beach in the shore area?

Access to water is being planned on the shore of Merihaanpuisto, located on the southern shore of Merihaka. The plans feature different examples of how the water can be accessed; via stairs, terraces or piers. An actual beach is not currently being planned in the area due to a shortage of maintenance and supervision resources. 

Are there any illustrative images of the completed project?

The planning is still in progress. However, when the planning principles are on display, the materials will feature alternative models of what the planning principles facilitate. The City and the parties undertaking the development projects will present their preliminary plans in the detailed plan phase. This will facilitate assessing the impacts of the plans and discussing them. It will not be until the later stages of the project that the plans are specified enough for realistic illustrative images to be presented. 

Does the City have any development ideas regarding the Merihaka business centre? 

Yes, but the plans are still in their very early stages. The prerequisite is that the mixed functional structure characteristic of Merihaka and the low nature of the service axis are preserved. 

When is construction expected to begin?

The objective is to establish the planning principles in 2024 and submit them for decision-making at the end of 2024. After that, the different owner parties can apply for a detailed plan change, the process of which will take roughly two years. After that, a building permit must be obtained, after which construction can begin. 

What development ideas are there regarding the ball game hall? 

Preliminary plans regarding the development of the ball game hall have been presented to the City. The objective of and the starting point for the jointly established planning principles is the preservation of the service level of the area. 

What does ‘development’ mean for the ball game hall, for example? 

Development can mean mere renovation or the development or diversification of services. The planning work is still in its early stages. However, it is unlikely that the ball game hall will be replaced with a multi-storey residential building. 

What is the future of the parking garages?

The City requires a number of parking spaces in the area that conforms to the current norm but is slightly lower than the norm during construction. The number of parking spaces is determined in relation to the permitted building volume of the area. The number of parking spaces determined for the floor area of a residential building is different from that for the floor area of business premises. There are parking spaces in the parking garages and below the deck. All of the spaces are privately owned: some by Merihaka Oy and others by housing companies. The City does not have detailed information about their ownership or usage rights. The City’s parking space allocation norms determine the minimum number of parking spaces, meaning that additional spaces can be built in the future if necessary. 

The new Hakaniemi Bridge will be located next to one of the parking garages. Have decisions been made regarding the parking garage?

No decisions have yet been made regarding the parking garage. The planning is still in its early stages.


Is Merihaka protected?

Merihaka is not protected, but it has been included in the selection of modern Finnish architectural masterpieces approved by the international DOCOMOMO organisation since 2017. Like Itä-Pasila, Merihaka was built in Helsinki as a residential area in the 1970s. The area was built in one go with a ‘compact city’ approach. However, the architecture of Merihaka is more elaborate in its details than that of Itä-Pasila, and its cityscape is more carefully thought out. LINK(Link leads to external service) to the DOCOMOMO website. 

In the planning principles, certain buildings and areas are designated to be protected, and their potential protection objectives must be surveyed in the detailed plan change process. 

When and on what principles was Merihaka built?

Merihaka was built by the developer and construction company Helsingin Asuntokeskuskunta Haka between 1973 and 1986. 

Built in a former industrial area on a landfill, Merihaka is a representative example of urban construction in the 1970s. The area is a dense whole of tall tower buildings and surrounding lower residential buildings, with a population of roughly 2,300 people. Merihaka was built in one go with a ‘compact city’ approach.

Pedestrian traffic was lifted above car traffic onto the deck level, where local services, such as a grocery store, a daycare centre and the ball game hall, are also located. In accordance with the ideals of the time, the architects aimed at creating an urban space that facilitates social interaction on the deck level. 

Merihaka is demarcated by the very busy Sörnäisten rantatie, from where car traffic is directed over Hakaniemi Bridge towards the city centre. The two sides of Merihaka are demarcated by a seaside street and the sea. The southern shore features boat berths in front of a small park. 

The primary construction material in Merihaka is concrete, as was typical of the time. The facades feature diagonally profiled, originally unpainted concrete elements. The profiled concrete repeats as an element that provides vertical rhythm to the facades of Merihaka. The aluminium balcony railings and the wood-structured window frames were painted with bright shades of yellow, blue, red and green. The massive nature of the tall buildings is lightened by the steel-framed glass structures of the entrance floors. The flat pedestrian deck is given structure by geometrical planting basins made of concrete. 

Merihaka is an architectural whole. Will the distinctiveness and special characteristics of the area be preserved?

The aim is to develop Merihaka as a whole with the special characteristics of the area taken into account. The planning work was started with resident interaction and an environmental history survey, which are used as the basis for establishing the starting points of the planning work and planning principles that will steer future detailed plan work. The resident interaction phase first involved scenario and workshop work, and now as the planning principles are on display, a comment round. The planning principles cover the entire area, keeping the special characteristics of the area in mind. The detailed planning process will be based on the boundary conditions of the planning principles. 

Will buildings be demolished in the area?

The housing companies have the final say on their own buildings, and the City does not require any buildings to be demolished. The protection objectives of the area and the buildings therein will be examined in connection with any changes to the detailed plan. 

Is it sensible in terms of cultural history to demolish original buildings in the area, such as the HOAS building? 

Construction and buildings form a significant source of emissions. It has been established that if preserving a building or parts thereof is possible, the amount of emissions generated will probably be lower. These factors must be weighed up in the long term to determine what the best option is. 

How will the boat berths, club activities and fishing opportunities be protected when developing the shores?

The maritime environment is an important characteristic of Merihaka, and the aim will be to keep strengthening that aspect going forward. The objective is to have boat berths in the area in the future as well. 

Why does the pedestrian bridge of Merihaka have to be rebuilt? 

The old Näkinsilta bridge for pedestrians and cyclists across Sörnäisten rantatie had to be overhauled. The bridge is 176 metres long, and its clearance height is 5.4 metres. 

The new Näkinsilta bridge will not only look more modern, but it will also have a greater clearance height – one important reason for overhauling the bridge is the transfer of the abnormal transport route from Hämeentie to Sörnäisten rantatie, which requires a greater clearance height. Furthermore, the new bridge will have another cantilever bridge to the new block facilitated by the new detailed plan, located on the western side of the new Merihaankatu. 

Read more about the construction of the Crown Bridges (the link leads to an external service)(Link leads to external service) 

Why is the bridge of the Crown Bridges project being built in Merihaka instead of Kruununhaka?

The general plan regarding the Crown Bridges tram line to Laajasalo involved examining three alternative routes between Nihti in Kalasatama and the city centre: Liisankatu, Aleksanterinkatu and Hakaniemi. 

The technical challenges of the Liisankatu option had to do particularly with the narrowness of the street in intersection areas – cycling and tram traffic would not have been feasible on the street. Several parking spaces would also have been lost in the process. 

The technical challenges of the Aleksanterinkatu option had to do with the cramped nature of Meritullintori. The route would have hindered the operation of several other tram lines on Mannerheimintie. 

Hakaniemi was assessed to be the most affordable tram line route option. This decision was also supported by the good connections of Hakaniemi to the metro, bus lines and the potential Helsinki City Rail Loop. Furthermore, the Hakaniemi option is also not as vulnerable; smooth transition connections between different modes of transport are an advantage should disruptions occur in the city centre tram network. 

All of the route options described above include Kruunuvuori Bridge and Finke Bridge. Merihaka-Nihti Bridge was settled on as a deviation from the original plan. The bridge connection to be opened from Nihti in Kalasatama to the side of the Tervasaari isthmus at the Pohjoisranta and Liisankatu intersection proved to be challenging. Due to the boat berths, the clearance height of Tervasaari Bridge would have had to be greater. The Hanasaari coal power plant would have no longer required the bridge to be movable due to coal transports ceasing in the future. However, the berths of Tervasaari would have been located behind the bridge. This would have required a great clearance height for the bridge, as well as higher costs. By contrast, a low bridge would have constricted use of the area from the current situation. The route selection was also influenced by cityscape-related factors. 

Read more about the topic in the Crown Bridges project plan (The link leads to an external service)(Link leads to external service). 

A resident survey was conducted regarding the current state of Merihaka and people’s wishes for the future. What results did the survey by Kenno yield?

In late 2021, Kenno Anthropological Consulting conducted an ethnographical survey in the Merihaka area, commissioned by the City of Helsinki. The objective of the survey was to yield understanding of what the special characteristics and atmosphere of Merihaka are from the perspective of residents, and what needs and wishes the local residents and operators have regarding changes in the future. 

The survey was carried out by conducting various interviews with local residents and operators and observing the area. The abundant materials collected in the survey were analysed and can be read as a report (48 MB). 

Merihaka provides genuine opportunities for dialogue between residents, operators and the City, as the future of the area is still being planned. Based on the feedback received in the survey, the most important procedures are: 

  • improving the participation of Merihaka residents in the development of the area
  • ensuring that communication about Merihaka is timely, comprehensive, interactive and accessible
  • developing Merihaka in cooperation with residents and operators. 

Is an interview survey with 66 people a large enough sample when the aim is to chart the views of the residents of Merihaka?

This qualitative and ethnographical survey charted the viewpoints of 66 people. Interaction work and dialogue with residents will be continued in the future as well.