Of plumbing and luxury

As concerns older buildings in Helsinki, the topic of a plumbing overhaul is among the most upsetting and, unfortunately, the most frequent. “Staggering” is the word used in one English-language article to describe the need for upgrading plumbing in Helsinki’s residential stock.

But let us leave the topic of drains, central heat and power facilities and other modern engineering triumphs of the less celebrated kind for a later post. They shall be returned to. They are, after all, fundamental to the modern experience.

What is of immediate concern, however, is the institutional framework in which the glitches in the system, viz. cracks in the drains above one’s bathroom, are currently dealt with. Here too, out of the grimmer elements of mundane urban survival, there is surely a story to be told, and all the more striking for its invisibility.

And there, dear reader, our protagonist may find that she will have to change direction, again, and start blogging about one of Finland’s more upmarket, nay luxurious, neighbourhoods, Eira. Here, in a small and dark flat, she has, however, access to some of the best that Helsinki’s urban experience has to offer. Most of all shops, independent shops!

And the reason for the change of address? The aforementioned drain pipe and the required works, to last between one and two months (at least, said the plumber in ominous tones), combined felicitously with an insurance policy that covers relocation to another address for the duration of the works. This, however, is not the dreaded plumbing overhaul, merely one of many inconvenient leaks that eventually lead the building owners as a collective entity to take the plunge (so to speak) and have the whole house redone.

To follow: guided tour of waste and recycling facilities, with more visuals.

Here’s one for starters, Eira Hospital designed by our old friend Lars Sonck, now catering to the growing numbers of customers for private medical care. Eiran Sairaala

For contextual information about Helsinki and its culture, it might be worth noting that diagonally across, behind the photographer’s back, is a later Sonck product, the serene red-brick church named after the national hero Mikael Agricola whose ABC-kirja (ABC book) or Finnish translation of the New Testament was published in 1548 thus becoming the first Finnish-language text in print.

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