Turtle’s Invasion

22.08.2007 at 12:34 | Posted in HSS | 2 Comments

by HSS student Stefanie Lemser

In several public areas in Helsinki you can find a species that you didn’t expect to see in Finland at all. What I’m talking about isn’t a living species, but concrete sculptures shaped like turtles. A magnitude of them invaded in public areas near Kanavaterminaali, Kauppatori, Merisatamanranta and Kampi.

I observed excited tourist taking their (probably first) turtle ride, although the concrete creatures’ purpose is of a quite different nature. They were invented as movable traffic barrieres to restrict the further invasion of car traffic in public areas and preserve pedestrian friendly areas. The former unaesthetic grey blocks of concrete were tenderly called ‘betoniporsas’ (engl. concrete pig) and some were even decorated like pigs by locals.


With the further increase of car traffic in the city centre a stronger preservation of public and pedestrian spaces was demanded. The betoniporsas guards were changed by the invasion of turtles.

I couldn’t find an answer, why they are shaped like turtles or what the myth of turtles in Helsinki might be about!? Could these traffic barriers not easily be used to present the symbol of the nation or city instead? Or is this perhaps already an omen of increasing temperatures related to climate change!?




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  1. I found this post because I was just in Helsinki and was wondering what the turtles were about myself.

    If its for calming traffic, perhaps it’s turtle shaped as a reminder to go slow?

  2. Some of you were wondering about the concrete turtles you see around town. Here follows their story. A landscape gardener from City of Helsinki’s Stara came up with the idea for the turtles because he wanted to create some alternative concrete obstacles for traffic in Helsinki. He wanted the alternative obstacles to be fun, and easy to use elsewhere, e.g. on playgrounds for children. The turtles were chosen as they are slow animals (hence perfect as obstacles for drivers who need to slow down), adorable and easy to pile and difficult to push over. There are also concrete pigs, cars and snails around Helsinki.

    Stara is a competent and reliable constructor that constructs and manages Helsinki’s streets, parks and public utility services, repairs buildings as well as produces logistics services and technical expert services mainly for the needs of the City of Helsinki.

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