Friday 4th December 2015 saw a good crowd at the City of Helsinki Planning Department’s exhibition space, Laituri. There’ll be a full write-up of the event later on the new blog changinghelsinki.fi. (For now there’s a short overview there to scroll down to, at ‘recent posts’.)
The new blog has been set up as a space to continue the conversation started by the book Cindy Kohtala and I edited: Changing Helsinki? which, if you follow this blog, you must know about by now.
Hopefully the mainstream and architectural media will pick up on the book as well. To round off the discussion at Laituri, architect Aleksi Niemeläinen gave the book a fabulously unexpected plug. Not only had he enjoyed reading it, he felt there is a need for the debate to expand or deepen. I was particularly pleased that he agreed that an important debate that still needs to be had is the one on ways to make the city more dense. That is the main subject of the chapter co-written by architect Tistan Hughes and myself about Meri-Rastila.
The party was held afterwards at what I still call Hietsu Pavilion, but is now known as Töölön kylätalo. It’s like a village hall for my own neighbourhood of Töölö, located under some beautiful pine trees between the beach and the cemetery. The workmen were barely gone by the time the catering team arrived to set up the party.
Another architect – and perhaps also a bit of an activist – Ville Ylönen, wrote the story of the pavilion for the book. The wooden building, which Ylönen calls the ‘Chameleon on the Beach’, was abandoned by the city for years, left to rot. But it did not rot.
Built in the 1930s to designs by Gunnar Taucher, city architect at the time, the calmly elegant pavilion had served for years as changing rooms and cafe for the beach outside. Local activists of many generations banded together to prevent its demolition, as I reported a couple of years back on this blog in Finnish. They did manage to purchase the building from the city for the nominal sum of 1 €. The graffiti was removed, funds collected and the whole building restored to new uses: a handful of workspaces for rent and the wonderful event space where we partied.
We did so to the accompaniment of old Finnish hits played by dj Mikko Mattlar (of Radio Helsinki’s Sunday evenings for instance) and to the delightful Helsinki-themed old songs performed by the duo of Marko Puro and Mauri Saarikoski.
Thanks to Cindy Kohtala for the photos.