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Sibbesborg Archipelago
March 5th, 2012

 Location: Sibbesborg, Finland

Khoury Levit Fong in partnership with  Matar Rahmeh Studio

KLF Principals in Charge: R. el-Khoury and R. Levit

Matar Rahmeh Principals:  Talal Rahmeh and Hoda Matar

Team: Faisal Bashir, Irina Solop, Lindsay Hochman, Roya Mottahedeh , Zachariah Glennon, Reza Karimi

Sibbisorg: Urban Archipelago. This is an urban design for Sibbisborg, a community one hour by car to the east of Helsinki. The mandate of the design is to plan for Sibbisborg’s growth from a community of 3,000 to a city of 100,000 people. Our proposition, the Sibbesborg Archipelago, is a network of neighborhoods, island-like in form, but bound together in a larger urban ensemble by shared networks of social and physical infrastructure. Set within the forested landscape, amidst agricultural fields, wetlands, and coastline, these urban islands are linked but distinct neighbourhoods that leave intact existing landscapes and permit, in the space between them, the constitution of a new ecological and recreational network that is as vital to the metropolitan form as the islands of the archipelago themselves. The islands are connected by roads, bike paths, parks, and the shared social and economic institutions of schools, commerce and shopping, and linked to the larger territory by regional transportation and new concentrations of employment and retail services. Between these islands continuous ecological networks of habitat, hydrology, and farmland are preserved, shaped, and stitched into a larger territorial ecology. New and re-purposed networks of biking, walking, and hiking paths turn the natural amenities of the Sibbesborg region into an attractive destination for recreation and tourism.

Urban Islands, Landscape, and Ecological Sustainability: The urban islands of the Sibbisborg Archipelago, positioned on high ground and nestled between working agricultural landscapes, and between sites of historical or natural interest, in their leapfrogging pattern permit large and continuous ecological corridors to be shaped. The movement of water through the region, the territory’s hydrology, is preserved. Continuity of habitat is preserved for animal life. Wetlands and designated sites of historical or natural interest, and working farmland are all left intact.
The landscape component of this proposal focuses on the open systems of the site, and proposes a series of ecological and water management strategies and guidelines, starting from the large scale level of the whole site, and moving into the smaller scale of streetscapes. The approach is to balance the need for development, and the on-going socio- economic practices such as agriculture on the site, with the need for preserving the ecological integrity of the site.

Bounded density and natural amenity: The archipelago of neighbourhoods in the new Sibbesborg is made possible by concentrating the new buildings in moderately dense islands of development. Each island is comprised of a mixture of six story apartments that bound lower rise town houses and/or walk-up duplexes and sometimes give way to single-family groupings.

Employment centres: While individual islands will provide smaller scale services, two town centre developments will include provisions for larger scale buildings with commercial uses. This will permit the Sibbesborg area to become a hub of employment rather than a dormitory and commuter suburb.

Housing types: The combination of medium and low rise housing types and the varieties that can be obtained in each of these categories are mixed together in each of the islands. It is our intention that each island permit a mixture of lifestyle choices.

Transportation: Our prime intent is to maintain a diversity of vehicular, bike and pedestrian routes to connect the different islands to each other and to the regional transportation network as well as to keep the road hierarchy to a minimum. A group of north-south looping avenues are introduced in such fashion that they intersect with the existing east-west highways and link to the proposed metro stations, creating an overall transport grid that carries local bus routes. The urban island streets, in turn, mesh with the avenues to insure the highest overall network connectivity. Most of the avenues are paralleled by bike paths that frequently branch into the landscape and link to existing rural unpaved roads. The extension of the road network to accommodate the very large projected growth for Sibbesborg builds, as much as possible, on existing road networks.

Preservation of existing property patterns and buildings: The irregular settlement pattern of suburban villas and loosely organized suburban towns, not to mention the complex camouflage-like pattern of areas historical and natural interest, agricultural lands, and other important natural features, pose a particular challenge. A very small number of existing houses, less than 5%, would need to be purchased for the purposes of redevelopment. The combination of the archipelago’s leapfrogging pattern and the manipulation of the island morphologies have made it possible to not only preserve an overwhelming majority of existing houses and properties, but to create new urban contexts in which smaller scale existing settlements will not be cast into uncomfortable relationships with incompatible land uses or scales of development.

Tourism Loops: Ecological, agricultural, historical and cultural loops, or itineraries, are developed in order to capitalize on the already occurring touristic activities and help invigorate the economic status of the area. The loops invest in the history of the site and make use of the existing cottages. Sports and ecological activities such as hiking, bird watching, learning about the trout habitats and the rich ecological context are promoted. The proposal calls for the participatory approach of local residents in the tourism activities (such as bed and breakfast and agri-activities).