by Johannes Klein
Helsinki changes. It doesn’t change like Berlin after November 1989. It doesn’t change like Paris with the help of Georges-Eugène Haussmann, but Helsinki changes. The change has been visible in the constantly altered coastlines. And the change has manifested in the recent years by the migration of industries and harbours.
The Sinebrychoff brewery, which operated since the 1820 at Bulevardi in Hietalahti, moved to Kerava in the 1990. The Primula bakery is about to move from Vallila to Järvenpää. The railway track that once enclosed almost the entire city centre is now hardly recognizable anymore. Large areas close to the city centre were rededicated or are about to change from industrial use to housing and offices. This affects e.g. Arabianranta, Hernesaari or Valilla.
Most visibly the harbour activities in Kalasatama and the container harbour west of Helsinki’s city centre were moved to Vuosaari. The old harbour areas are now vast fields of concrete, asphalt and open pits in constantly changing patterns. During this transition the area can be occupied by interim activities.
Containers like those once handled on Jätkäsaari in the west harbour have got now wide meaning of mobility and flexibility and temporary use. This has been explored manifold all over the world. Containers host temporary offices at construction sites. They are modified and reshaped to all kinds of uses. They are used as symbols of mobility.
So, what about containers and Helsinki?
Let’s have look to the west harbour. A small tower of two containers informs at the entrance to the construction site at Jätkäsaari. Depending on the state of development they are moved from time to time.
Changing the location from west of the city to the east, we come to Kalasatama. Visiting Kalasatama, we first saw the marks of containers that were printed to the pavement. How many times containers full of goods were put down lifted on this spots? Which destinations are connected to this reminiscence of former use?
At the very southern end of the area three wind turbines installed on containers produce “mobile” energy.
Rather several containers are arranged to the Konttiaukio (container square), which hosts currently a variety of activities organized by e.g. the public school Helsinki, Merimieskirkko (Finnish Seamen’s Mission), Kuvataideakatemia (Finnish Academy of Fine Arts) or the environmental organisation Dodo. A blackboard at the square informs about upcoming events.
The void frame of containers on a (temporary) void spot offers plentiful possibilities. The containers set the link from former use to interim use and flexibility.
However, I can’t help, but seeing also another connotation in the containers. Containers are standardized; containers are compatible to each other; containers can display uniformity; containers are arranged in right angles. Somehow, this depicts the development of Helsinki too. The process of transition from harbour to housing is organized, it is smooth; it follows a schedule; there are little tensions; there is now vacuum that could suck in whatever comes close by accident. There is freedom, but is has a frame.
Just keep your eyes open, you might find much more examples. A mobile camera obscura, a home for wind surfers….
Tags: creepy, pasila, Railroad, tunnel
It took me a while before I decided to go explore this tunnel in Pasila and when I did unfortunately I forgot to take a flash light with me. It’s approx. 600m long so when you get to the middle it does get a bit scary. I used the camera’s flash to look around and discovered some hardly soothing drawings on the walls. Dripping water and other sounds amplified by the stone walls also played an important role during the walk. The train I was anxious to meet didn’t come but I imagine that the tracks may be still in use, so take that into account when you visit. (Update: according to Timo L. the end part of the tracks has been removed so no need to fear the train.) You can access it either from the industrial railways next to Pasila’s railway station or from the other side around Kumpula. The tunnel is part of a track that connects the ”container city” on the railway route coming from the north with Kalasatama and the industrial harbours near Hermanninranta. These interesting harbours will soon be removed to make way for new, expensive apartment blocks – part of a bigger plan to convert Helsinki’s old industrial areas into smooth housing districts.
If you’re interested in railroad related stuff check out other posts within the new railroad category.
Tags: artificial, coast, coastline, development, historical helsinki, maps, natural, shore
Helsinki is indeed a very different city than it used to be and development is progressing rapidly. New construction sites are popping up and whole districts are being reorganised as areas around the centre convert from industrial zones to housing estates. But what was the shape of Helsinki’s core districts before the industrial expansion began?
From the map below you can see what was the original coast line, about a hundred years ago, in relation to the current, expanded shore (red shape). The west coast underwent the most dramatic changes with the west harbour and docks claiming a large portion of the coast line. So have areas around the Suvilahti power plant. Both are about to be transformed into expensive housing estates. The Katajanokka harbour has clearly generated some new land too and Töölönlahti has been shrinking significantly along the years. Notably part of what used to be a lake is now a large parking lot behind Finlandia Talo. (The comparison is approximate due to inconsistencies between the old and new maps.)
Following a request from Hugo I created another overlay with a map of Helsingfors dating back to 1815 in which the visible changes are even more dramatic. Back then there was nothing developed on Katajanokka yet and no railways nor stations existed.
source of underlying map
Here’s a map from the Geological Survey of Finland that neatly shows the expansion of the shorelines along the years.
I received it from Johannes.
Tags: pavement, rautatientori
by Edit Bajsz
In the heart of the city, on the Railway Station Square (Rautatientori), on the southern part of it, close to the bike lane, I found a quite large motive in the pavement which looked like the symbol for marking the true north on a map, on a drawing. So one day I took my compass with me, and checked: the arrow is really pointing towards the North.
The pavement of the square was renewed in 2000, but I couldn’t find any information yet whether this was a new thing or did it originally belong to the pavement. So the intention of the pavement-layout-designer remains a guess.
Tags: dock, harbour, suburb
by Edit Bajsz
The Vuosaari harbour was opened to traffic last November (see it under construction). I went to check it out on a cold winter day and found some awesome things. It was a Sunday, I guess partly because of that, partly because of the recession affecting the field of logistics, the area was rather quiet. But still it was amazing to see those cranes and piles of containers.
On the western edge of the port I found the empty dock of an old shipyard. I found out later, that sadly there is maybe not too much time left to adorn its awesome proportions. In spite of the original plans, which would have kept the pool filled with water, several bridges crossing over it from the port to the business park on the other side, most of it will be filled and the area will serve as a base for the container-lego-game, leaving only a small pool as a reminder of the dock.
I also went to the opposite edge of the harbour, where a highly claimed sound barrier wall stretches a kilometer long between the harbour and the adjacent nature reserve area. Next to the wall, a pedestrian route will be laid out. Maybe for those who want to feel the tension between nature and engineering?
Right at the center of the port area, near the entrances and the main office-building, I found a surprising, little, softly curved building with a wooden facade sitting among those giant sharp-edged logistic facilities. It is the Helsinki Seafarers’ Center.
As I was already freezing, I went into the „Vuoska” restaurant, which has everything a good roadside joint focusing on the appetite of truck-drivers has to offer. They had excellent variety of fresh pullas and cakes late Sunday afternoon! The restaurant serves as a resting place for the people on long hauls, it has saunas, showers, and a corner arranged to look like a cosy living room of a home. The best part is that the Vuoska is open with its kitchen working 24/7.
Tags: bay, frozen, helsinki, töölö
by Edit Bajsz
If you get the chance, walk across the frozen Töölö bay before the ice melts.
People have created some paths on the ice and snow, mainly in the North-South direction. Basically, it’s a shortcut between Finlandia-house and Sturenkatu street, avoiding the steep climb on Linnunlaulu street.
But the reason one should walk there, is to get a new perspective of the city, of the surrounding buildings. I was wondering, why is this perspective so exciting. It would be the same from a small boat rowing on the Töölö bay in the summer. Then I realized, that now we have solid „ground” under our feet, and while on a boat we have to hold on tight, constantly balance ourselves, and it is quite tough to stand still, now we move on the ice as we usually do on the streets of the city: we can walk, stop for a while, look around.
Also, our eye level is lower than usual. This, and the fact that the trees of the parks around the bay are not right in front of us, give a new kind of view over the buildings. The opera house can look pretty scary…
Tags: boutique, helsinki, second hand
Penny Lane is a must see for anyone who likes second-hand shopping. The boutique is placed in a most unique and beautiful two-story room. The ceiling is covered with a beautiful mirror and is encircled by a balcony-like upper floor. They have been around for 15 years and house mainly woman’s clothing (a lot of spectacular dresses on the upper floor), but there is also small section of men’s clothing. For instance, I found a couple of dress-suits for rent. If you ever find yourself in need of a masquerade costume, this is the place to go! They have fezes and all other hat-types imaginable. The shop is located on Runebergsgatan 39. See map >>>
Tags: helsinki, jump, ramp, ski, slope
This post is for all those who, like me, had no idea that Helsinki has its very own ski jumping slope. There are actually three of them grouped together on a hillside between the apartment buildings of Western Herttoniemi and the protected area south of Viikki. The wooden construction of the big one is rather vintage looking but well-kept and the perfect state of the slopes indicates that the ramps are in use. Despite the many warning signs I decided to climb to the top to get a better view for taking photos.
A bit further south form the jumping slope I found a small slalom hill with a ramp constructed to help skiers accelerate.
Tags: food, hämeentie, helsinki, international, multicultural, shops
Probably some of Helsinki’s most multicultural areas in terms of small (and big) immigrant shops are the proximities of Hämeentie street and the streets adjacent to it. There are African, oriental and middle eastern shops with an exciting abundance of spices, grains, sauces, herbs and other food products from all around the world.
Pictured here is the Vietnamese supermarket Vii Voan located next to Hakaniemen Kauppahalli. There works a friendly, old man who always runs off into the shop to show me where to find the particular ingredients that I’m looking for. I’ve recently been there to get some Korean kimchi for making kimchijeon and he found me five different kinds of it. After that I supply myself with basmati or jasmine rice and spices like turmeric, cumin, cardamom in a nearby Indian shop. Then there are also the dried beans, peas and lentils, the soya sauces and rice vinegars, the different teas and herbs and so on…
If you have curiosity for foreign foods I strongly advise to pay a visit to these places. The shop assistants tend to be very sympathetic and who knows, they might even share some recipes
I also found a nice Arabic wholesale shop a bit further towards the shore, close to Kalasatama metro station.
Tags: arkadia, bookshop, helsinki, international, töölö
Barely two months ago Ian Bourgeot opened his bookshop with the idea of creating a meeting point and a sort of cultural centre in midst of the Töölö neighbourhood. Already now a plenitude of ideas and plans for the interior and activities in the place are waiting to be implemented. What you can always count on are tons of interesting books in English, French, Spanish, Russian and even Polish and… a hot cup of tea on a comfortable sofa. See map for Hesperiankatu 9 or visit arkadiabookshop.fi