Helsinki and Containers

17.09.2010 at 20:54 | Posted in Architecture, History, Industrial | 5 Comments

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.

Jätkäsaari

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?

footprints

At the very southern end of the area three wind turbines installed on containers produce “mobile” energy.

windpower

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.

camera obscura

Just keep your eyes open, you might find much more examples. A mobile camera obscura, a home for wind surfers….

Artificial Helsinki

18.06.2009 at 17:32 | Posted in Architecture, History, Industrial | 13 Comments
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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.)

artificial_helsinki
source of underlying map

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.
artificial_helsinki2
source of underlying map

27.04.2010
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.

20.06.2010
Here’s a map that Johannes created recently using all the gathered data.

Vuosaari Harbour #2

20.04.2009 at 0:15 | Posted in Architecture, Industrial, Walk Route | 1 Comment
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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.

vs-013-a

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.

vs-024-a

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.

vs-029-avs-036-a

The frozen Töölö bay

5.03.2009 at 13:39 | Posted in Architecture, Go At Least Once, Leisure, Romantisch, Walk Route | 4 Comments
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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.

tl-029

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…

tl-032

Ski Jumping Ramp

5.07.2008 at 15:52 | Posted in Architecture, Leisure, Nature, Sports, Walk Route | 11 Comments
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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.

Suomenlinna Tunnel

7.05.2008 at 15:49 | Posted in Architecture, History, Industrial, NotBeen but WannaGo, Strange | 7 Comments
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Although it is by no means a secret not everyone knows there’s a tunnel connection from the Suomenlinna island to mainland Helsinki. The 1300 metre long tunnel starts in northern Länsi-Mustasaari island and comes out in south-eastern Kaivopuisto by the Läntinen Puistotie street. Apart from providing the islands with hot water the tunnel serves as an emergency route for ambulances, fire brigade and police. The tunnel is nested 63 metres below sea level half of which is rock and half water. About 500 cubic metres of seawater seep into the tunnel every day and have to be constantly pumped out.


photo source

The Suomenlinna tunnel is only one of very many underground passages drilled in the rock underneath Helsinki. There are public transport tunnels like the metro tunnel from Sörnäinen to Ruoholahti, there are numerous sewage tunnels and there is also a system of tunnels connecting Helsinki’s central hospitals that can be used to transport soldiers and medical equipment. The water in Helsinki is brought from the Päijänne lake by means of a 120km long tunnel dug 10-100m deep in the rock.

Read Hugo’s comprehensive comment to find out more about underground Helsinki.

Downtown Fire Depot

10.02.2008 at 19:35 | Posted in Architecture, History, Industrial, Museum, Tourism | Leave a comment
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Fire Depot Fire Depot

Helsinki’s oldest used fire depot. It was erected in 1891 from a design by architect Theodor Höijer. Apart from a fairly interesting museum the building can boast a 42 metres tall tower. Although the height is not too impressive in regard to other cities around the world it is tall enough for Helsinki standards to provide a great view over the entire city and the sea.
Now getting on the tower might be a bit tricky because they open it only on certain days so it needs a bit of arranging with the firemen. Check the location of the depot on a map.

Flea Market Valtteri

25.09.2007 at 16:38 | Posted in Architecture, Buy Stuff, Get Some Clothes, Go At Least Once, History, Industrial, Show a Foreign Friend | 9 Comments

This flea market, although very big and popular, you’re not likely to find by accident unless you live near it – it is located inside an old, brick warehouse along Teollisuuskatu (quite near the Primula Café) and the entrance to the precinct is from Aleksis Kiven katu 17. The best time to go hunting for stuff is on weekends when dozens of people set up their stands (during summer season also outdoors). On weekdays only a self-service version is functioning on which you can still find quite purty wares (see pics below) but then any bargaining is out of question since all products have price tags and have to be paid for at the checkout like in a regular supermarket. Look it up on the map.

valtteri

Valtteri Valtteri

Restaurant Pikku-Vallila

21.09.2007 at 13:05 | Posted in Architecture, Beer/Drink Place, For Coffee or Tea, Show a Foreign Friend, Where to Eat | Leave a comment

Place as cute as the area where it’s located. In one of the wooden houses of the puu-Vallila district is a tiny bar/restaurant. The atmosphere was quiet and homey when I arrived. After a couple of minutes a big guy came out from the kitchen and took the order. He made me a delicious feta-pesto toast – and not expensive at all. And check out that terrace! I can already see myself there next summer enjoying a beer in the sun.
The place opens in the afternoon and closes around 1-2am. Address: Vallilantie 19 C
Look it up on the map.

pikku-vallila

pikku-vallila

Primula Café

17.09.2007 at 15:17 | Posted in Architecture, Buy Food, For Coffee or Tea, Go At Least Once, Where to Read a Book | 1 Comment

Sweet and stylish café most probably established after the bakery building located at Teollisuuskatu 3 was erected in the mid-sixties. Since then it has continuously served as a café for the workers of the many nearby businesses and for the staff of the Primula Bakery itself. One of the things I liked about it was the varied clientèle – you can see spotless suits and men in oil-stained gear sitting side by side sipping their coffees. And yes, it offers what one can expect – fresh & tasty bread & pastry straight from the bakery and of course coffee, sandwiches, etc… See photo below for the documentation of a casual breakfast set. Open on weekdays from 7-17. Oh, and did I mention that coffee is 1€? I’m definitely coming back to try out other products. Look it up on the map.

Primula

Primula

Primula

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