Pori is located near the shore of the 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 the Baltic sea right outside Pori. Close to the River, you will find the National Urban Park, newly built housing fair, and a culture of allotment gardens. The river was heavily polluted from the 1960’s to 1980’s. Even though it is not that bad today, the public image is still that the river is unusable. There pollution of the river increased in 2010 because of two industrial accidents within the same year.
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. Thus, activities such as skating and skiing, which is popular here, are limited. The inhabitants do not use the river as it is believed to be polluted, and thus dangerous. In addition, you can sense that the river divides the city rather than connects it. Furthermore, the existing infrastructure is not actually triggering new uses of the water as one still cannot access it.
Visions and aims:
The National Urban Park has the potential to be a collective vision for the city. Especially if it could be developed as a holistic concept and used proactively as a cultural/ ecological resource platform. The green and blue connecting lines through the city link the city with the wetlands and recreational areas by the sea. This 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. This would strengthen the synergy between the urban and rural.
Pori is home to some big events, such as Pori Jazz Festival. This indicates that event based activities are naturally welcomed. The Pori Art Museum is a great resource as they are engaged with many different international artists as well as the local artists. Furthermore, they are involved in participatory art, as well as in ecology, nature and environmental themes, particularly Nordic/ Baltic and Arctic. The museum is also located at the bank of the river.
There is an ongoing project that tries to challenge the inhabitant to (re)consider their relationship to the river. This can help portraying the river in a new way, and hopefully invite people to rethink their city in general.