The doctoral dissertations of the former Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) and Aalto University Schools of Technology (CHEM, ELEC, ENG, SCI) published in electronic format are available in the electronic publications archive of Aalto University - Aaltodoc.

Town Square and Small Town. Cultural Heritage, Pleasantness and Reputation – Loviisa's Town Square and its Potentials

Aulis Tynkkynen

Dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Science in Technology to be presented with due permission of the Department of Architecture for public examination and debate in Auditorium AS1 at Helsinki University of Technology (Espoo, Finland) on the 10th of November, 2007, at 12 noon.

Dissertation in PDF format (ISBN 978-951-22-9009-3)   [34012 KB]
Dissertation is also available in print (ISBN 978-951-22-9008-6)

Note: The language of the dissertation is Finnish.


The focus of this study is the central square and its status in the development process of a small town trying to succeed. With the help of contemporary site discussion, I will develop a research model, which is particularly suitable for the evaluation and development of the old and central public sites in towns. The aim of the model is to find those qualities, i.e. the critical success factors that are essential for developing the various sites in town. According to the research model, the physical qualities, the use and the symbolic features included in them, will be described, and those that are of large scale or otherwise of obvious importance will be chosen. These will be examined with the help of three concepts that are developed based on literature. These concepts are building protection and completing building, pleasantness and functionality, and image and reputation. The empirical study concerns the town square of Loviisa and the possible contribution it makes to the success of this town situated in the province of East Uusimaa. In addition to the general development principles of public sites, the study also implies a specific point of view to the history of town squares.

The town of Loviisa is over 260 years old. In its heyday it was one of the biggest towns in Finland, an important fortress and a trade and administration centre. Over time, its position has gradually weakened, and it is now one of our smallest towns in Finland, its development leaning partly on the growth of the capital region. The centre square has always been a key element for the town, as the square has always situated where it still is, first as Suurtori and, after the rebuilding due to a big fire in 1855, its size has more than doubled and is now known as Raatihuoneentori.

By Finnish standards, Raatihuoneentori in Loviisa is a relatively old object of building protection: its main buildings, that is Raatihuone (Town Hall), the church and five merchants' palaces were protected already in 1958. In the future, the building protection of these houses is more focused on the details, inner space and the changes made in various stages, extensions and annex buildings. The cultural heritage offers possibilities to develop the activities in a more significant way. The current thought in the art of building has developed to a direction emphasising entities and layers, which brings also more recent buildings to the sphere of building protection. The town view is formed with the old palaces as the basis in a classic spirit, which has been completed by changes, extensions and more recent buildings in the spirit of art nouveau, 1920's classicism and different forms of modernism. There are at least two significant possibilities for adding new buildings to this view. However, it will be a demanding task both from the point of view of building protection as well as the art of building.

The physical main features of the town square have developed during 19th century, but its current form is the result of the finalisation work that took place mainly during the 1960's and 1970's when Mannerheiminkatu, Loviisa's main street, was still part of the main road. It has been that the traffic system for passenger cars has been a decisive factor in decision-making resulting in a situation where the pleasantness and functionality of the square to anyone else but a car driver is unreasonably poor. On the basis of the discussion and development work on the renaissance of city centres, it can be found solutions that will improve the pleasantness and functionality by harmonising the traffic system and developing the square to be a safely accessible and natural network of good places.

These areas of development are part of town planning. It is the aim of this study to emphasise this idea in the holistic strategic development of a town. Also, the image work that has only just begun in many cities is also vital in town planning. Loviisa's town square could be in all the more central position when building the image and reputation of the town. Image work may complete the decision-making e.g. with functional and virtual elements, that have vanished in a physical sense. Also, image work may revive and present such functional history that has not needed any specific physical marking, but has used the square as an open and multifunctional place in town.

Keywords: ability to compete, identity, image potential, public space, essential qualities, critical success factors, built environment, use, physical and symbolic, building heritage, culture heritage, building art, completion building, renewal of city centres, image work

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© 2007 Helsinki University of Technology

Last update 2011-05-26