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Oulu’s Rotuaari: A new image

Rotuaari, the renowned pedestrian street in Oulu, has claimed its place as a summer time public living-room. It has been awarded for its vibrancy.

Oulu’s Kirkkokatu Street section between Saaristokatu Street and Pakkahuoneenkatu Street was converted into a pedestrian zone in the summer of 1987. In 1988, a name competition was arranged with the result that the pedestrian zone was given the name ‘Rotuaari’.

A place to meet – a place for events

Rotuaari – especially its central square – has obtained a warm place in the hearts of Oulu’s inhabitants during the last 20 years as a meeting venue whose events include, for instance, a temporary street for tulips and sculpture, a Christmas ‘star boy’ competition, tomcat and leg pageants, a wine festival and Rotuaari Piknik.

Oulu Technical Centre initiated a renovation-based construction plan for Rotuaari in September 2009. Its head designer was Sito Oy. The technical network of the Rotuaari area was old and obsolete, and the area yearned for the look of a new urban milieu. The planning work comprised the most central sections of Kirkkokatu, Kauppurienkatu and Isokatu streets.

The work was scheduled for a three-year period. During the first stage, street and construction plans were prepared for Kirkkokatu Street which, together with its squares, makes up the most centralized pedestrian area and event venue for Rotuaari.

Rotuaari’s new look

The goal of the design for Kirkkokatu Street was to renew the pedestrian street and squares so that they attract city inhabitants to enjoy themselves and enable more versatile urban life. The basis of the design work has been a master plan for the street environment of the Oulu city centre conceived in 2003.

To start off the work, already partly obsolete starting points of the master plan were examined, a larger stage for performances than before was included in the designs, and – differing from the master plan – the Rotuaari Ball, which has become a landmark for the area, was retained.

The goal of the renovation was improvement of the street’s functionality and appearance by renewing, for instance, the street’s coverings, fixtures and street lighting as well as the public façade and festive illumination. The street was covered with natural stone slabs whose striped pattern and colour concept gets its inspiration from Nordic rag rugs. The planning goal has also been improvement in accessibility for the disabled or persons with reduced mobility. The goal of festive illumination was to give Oulu special emphasis as the {i>Tierna Town<i}.

In connection with the renovation, the street’s structures, drying system and all networks beneath the street were also renewed. The entire pedestrian street area was equipped with a frost protection system, ensuring pleasant accessibility all year round.

The objective of the renewal of Rotuaari’s public stage was to improve the equipment standard of the stage so that it would be possible to arrange a larger variety of events than before, all year round.

The work was completed in 2012.