Pori is located near the shore of Baltic sea in the West of Finland. It is the capital of Satakunta region, an industrial region. The city is quite suburban, including the city centre. The Kokemäenjoki river runs through the city and joins Baltic sea right outside Pori. The river is underused and in some ways, the city has turned its back to the river. There is a concept of Urban National Park in Pori, which is 10km2 big. There is a newly built housing fair by the riverbank in Karjaranta and there is a culture of allotment gardens, which are located along the river as well. The river has been heavily polluted from the 1960’s to 1980’s. Even though it is not nearly as bad today, the public image is still that the river is unusable. There have been two industrial accidents polluting the river that raised a lot of public attention in 2010’s.
There are 84,391 inhabitants in Pori, people of Pori are very proud of their city. They identify themselves as living by the sea, much more than by the river. Strong identity with Satakunta region as well.
Pori, same as other cities in Finland and Scandinavia, are facing a challenge due to the climate change. The winters are getting warmer, and the activities, that used to be fun and brought communities together, such as skating and skiing are limited to fewer and fewer winter days. There is a stigma to how the river could be used, as people think it is polluted, dangerous etc. and there is a sense that the river divides the city rather than connects it. The existing infrastructure being design for the water accessibility is not actually triggering new uses of the water as one still cannot access it.
Visions and aims:
The Pori National Urban Park has the potential to be a collective vision for the city/ region if it could be developed as a holistic concept and used proactively as a cultural/ ecological resource platform. The green and particularly the blue connecting lines through the city, linking the city with the wetlands and recreational areas by the sea, provides a potentially powerful platform, which could engage different communities, city departments and institutions along the river.
Cultural planning approach:
The river in Pori could be used as a neutral space for everyone and a public space for creativity and interaction and strengthen the synergy Pori has between the urban and rural. Pori has great experience in organising large-scale events, such as Pori Jazz festival, which means the event based activities could be naturally welcomed and easier to organize and to use the potential of the river for events which engage and promote. The Pori Art Museum is a great resource as they are engaged with a lot of international artists as well as the local artists. They have organised surveys and participatory art and they are also involved in ecology, nature and environmental themes, particularly Nordic/ Baltic and Arctic. The museum is also located at the bank of the river. There are existing studies happening along the river challenging people to think about their relationship to the river. This project could feed into the existing research and presenting it in a new, artistic manner and hopefully develop a project on the river to invite people to rethink their city.