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Walking around Helsinki Walking around Helsinki
by Carlos Eyl
Issue 4
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Buildings have always had a special appeal to me, quite notorious when I photograph them more than my own family and friends. Last summer, as the Nordic weather did not inspire many outdoor activities and my thesis research drowned me into textbooks, I came across an article about the Arabianranta area. It was enough to drag me out of my twenty square metres flat that I had rented for the summer.

The place was still under construction and if you were not aware of what was going on, it didn’t quite catch your eye at first sight. Being reminded that the City of Helsinki was founded at the mouth of the river Vantaa back in 1550, by a Royal Degree issued on the 12th of June, it was quite hard to believe that such a site had once been considered. The King during that time, Gustavus I Vasa, was seeking greater trade between East and West in an attempt to compete with Tallinn, which was not achieving the desired results.

Despite an artistic background that can be attached to the name “Arabia” - established in October 1874 as a subsidiary of the Swedish brand name Rörstrand - my high expectations of such a spectacle were cut short. A deteriorating, grey building, with a few brand names set aside, was supposed to resemble the artistic heart of the city. Nothing, apart from a tall tower with a few letters spelling the name Arabia, gave any hint that you were in the right place. The only architectural piece that caught my eye walked out of the building and cycled passed me in a revealing nature – it is worth mentioning that until then I didn’t know art could be found within that building.

The transformation is notorious once you have passed the Arabia factory towards the new homes being built facing the Vanhankaupunginlahti bay. The apartment buildings are modest and elegant in design, maintaining the Finnish functionalist touch and don’t appear to be anymore special than other recent projects.

The promise of a cheaper wireless broadband connection to the area is still on its way, since every resident and business wasn’t enjoying it at the time, but surely wondering and looking forward to it. This is an important aspect for all web dependent freaks, since internet services here in Finland can be considerably high and one of the means to integrate in productive life in the competitive Finnish environment.

In our minds nowadays, the idea of lifelong learning is becoming as common as other basic needs - attractive to some and just a need for others. In my opinion, the most attractive feature of Arabianranta remains in the articulation of the different community activities. The number of universities, polytechnics and schools play an important role in re-activating the area, interacting through common interests with local businesses and residents.

Every new project brings unsullied opportunities as I took a new path while walking around Helsinki.

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