I heart Helsinki
MNB 03 - 05 - 2010

Because of my legal situation I got spend more time in Helsinki than any other members of our group. This city was created in the nineteenth century. As I found out the city was lucky enough to not have too much money during the modern era to destroy much of the city to replace it with newer buildings. Instead the city is quite nicely divided into different time periods and styles: the Russian neo-classicism area, the functionalist housing from the fifties and sixties, the traditional wooden housing for the working class and many others. What I really enjoyed in the Finish architecture is their sensitivity to people, materials and colors. The ideology the architecture is for the people has always been and is one of the main ruling ideas behind Finish buildings. That is why post-modern architecture that is mostly concerned with forms is not really popular here, while the buildings of the modern style are done in a way that they do not intimidate people like they do in the US, but are rather comforting and inviting. The material selection seems to be very important here, as well as treatment of those materials. Wood is treated to preserve its original color, or given some warm color, while harsh and cold concrete is almost always covered by some other material or painted over. The color is very important in the new Finish architecture and it is used very carefully. The amount of color is usually not too much or too little, but just the right amount with a background of whites, grays or browns. In the weather that I have experienced here the color is very powerful, while being surrounded by white snow. Another really neat thing about Helsinki is that it is situated on several islands and peninsulas, so it has a lot of shoreline. Most of it is public parks that are utilized a lot by the residents of Helsinki. Too bad I cannot really talk about the design of the park that much because the parks are covered by at least two feet of snow (this year has been exceptionally snowy). The park space is not limited to only shoreline, but there are also several parks and plazas inside the islands and peninsulas. With all this open space Helsinki managed to stay dense and urban. The urban design here works very well in creating urban edge and breaking it to create a very pleasant atmosphere. If this is the way all the Scandinavian cities are built, I am really upset that Helsinki is the only Nordic city that we are going to see.

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