Today was the first day of Open House Helsinki, event where you get to visit buildings and locations you normally wouldn’t have access to. How exciting! Open House Helsinki is actually part of Open House Worldwide, a non-profit organization whose primary aim is to be an architectural education event.
So let’s have a look at the program in Helsinki?
UK-embassy. Image by Reetta Purontakanen
Friday looked pretty good. Access to the parliament library, the clock tower of Helsinki Railway Station, UK embassy, The House of The Senate... to name a few. I decided on the tour in Puu-Käpylä. Naturally missed the start and ended up touring the place by myself. I actually ran into the tour group but at that point I had seen enough, so I listened for a while and then went my way. In summa summarum, excellent selection.
I got home from my exhaustingly architectural day in Helsinki and decided to look what was on offer tomorrow. And let me tell you, this is were things got ugly and that’s why I’m writing this post which is about to become a rant…
Open House Worldwide-participants are required to adhere to following rules:
1. The Open House event should maintain the core values of the Open House concept: to foster appreciation, understanding and learning amongst your own communities along with the value of architectural excellence and showcasing outstanding design, including quality contemporary design.
2. Free entry to all buildings taking part in the Open House event is mandatory, and no mandatory charge to be made to building owners to participate.
3. A not-for-profit organisation or charity should organise/host the Open House event in each city, whilst also being independent from party political ties. The organisation will further need to be part of or involved within architecture or the built environment sector.
4. The primary aim of Open House is an architectural education event.
Now, Open House Helsinki is sponsored by SKANSKA. A commercial building company. Known for its poor quality and strong liaisons with local municipalitie’s planning departments. Let’s see what kind of locations we have on offer on Saturday…
Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. Good but you can only join if you were one of the peeps who participated in the raffle for the tickets.
Tove Jansson‘s Helsinki. Fantastic! The creator of Moomins lived all her life in the Helsinki city center or its proximity and this tour takes you through her hoods. But since the tour is also in the guide, and you can do it by yourself, it doesn’t really adhere to the “not getting access to normally” promise.
The tower of Helsinki Lutheran Cathedral, Finlandia Hall and Helsinki Hall of Culture. First one required to win in a raffle to get in. Understandable. The latter two only accepts 25 and 30 peeps respectively in but hey, those 55 people get to see some rooms that normally aren’t open for public! And yes, they used exclamation marks to make this point. I’m going to assume that most of the rooms ARE open for public any other day too.
Can you see the sarcasm creeping in? Well, it’s about to get better. Let’s see rest of Saturday’s offerings. Remember, this event is about architectural education and “fostering appreciation, understanding and learning amongst your own communities along with the value of architectural excellence and showcasing outstanding design, including quality contemporary design.”
Kivistö-neighbourhood. A building site that’s going to be finished in 2015 for the annual home & architecture-fair. The interesting pitch for this place include “train station will be ready in 2015″ and of course the compulsory mention of the said fair.
Kivistö-train station. A building site. Yes, the same train station that was mentioned in the previous listing. Finished in 2015.
Kivistö Quartz Route. A building site. A pedestrian and bike road to connect Kivistö to whatever. I’m going to presume it’s going to be ready in 2015. But wait, there IS something ready. Some kind of artwork by Leonhard Lapin. Will be revealed officially tomorrow.
Kivistö Sonata. Almost not a building site. Apparently the first building in Kivistö-block to reach full height! There also “will be 9 buildings in total including on care home!” Lots of words about how there will be this and that kind of building materials used. Rest of the buildings in the block will be ready in 2015.
Kivistö Concrete Art walking tour. A building site. “The art theme realized in Kivistö, will in future be seen from Kivistö train station”. Probably ready in 2015. The tour ends with a visit to this artistic gem:
Image via liikennevirasto.fi
Kivistö City Center Tour. A building site. If you missed it, there will be an architecture fair in Kivistö in 2015. Which means this city center will be finished 2015. Or that’s what the boys of SKANSKA say on their website.
You know what this reminds me of? The Asterix comic “The Mansions of the Gods“, that’s what. Those who have read it knows the one spread with an image of the sales pitch tablet, which is made to advertise the mansions nearby Asterix’s village to attract wealthy Romans and where next to every advertised amenity are the words “in planning”.
This is exactly the same! Well not exactly. Kivistö totally has finished buildings! My mistake!
But no worries. There are still TWO sites for tomorrow that AREN’T KIVISTÖ! Shocking. I know. Let’s see if they are any better…
HEKA-building in Jätkäsaari. Finished building. Didn’t see that one coming, did you? The sad part is that it’s apparently ONLY finished building there because…
Tour of Jätkäsaari. A building site. “Jätkäsaari will have housing for 18 000 and work for 6000 people. There will be affordable housing as well as private ownership and every other ownership model in between”. Awful lot of “will bees” if you know what I’m sayin’? But not to worry, the main contractor for Jätkäsaari is SKANSKA.
So I’m going to leave you to ponder following things…Is Open House Helsinki honouring the spirit of Open House? Are these locations rare architectural gems? Is Saturday’s program nothing but poorly disguised marketing campaign for SKANSKA? Strategically on a weekday when the potential buyers are off work?
P.S. The Sunday’s program is HERE. Only 4 locations. I guess SKANSKA ran out of steam.
P.P.S. Thinking about re-locating to Finland? How about Kivistö?