How did I miss this?! “Renderings to blame in Designer Hotel scrap”

Thankfully our protagonists have a social life here in Helsinki and so things they miss in that day’s media can be filled in by friends with similar interests. I won’t shock you with the unrepeatable language used by our friend as she expanded on her views and feelings on the Norwegian businessman’s and the Swiss architects’ impending intervention in one of this city’s most symbolically laden and widely enjoyed shore fronts.

From the City’s website, this image.


© Helsingin kaupunkisuunnitteluviraston lehdistökuva

Other work awaits, however, so I’ll simply cut and paste The Usual’s article and provide as good a translation of the relevant bits as I can. The terminology is truly confusing though – legal stuff this ain’t! There’s to be a vote on Thursday.

Anyway, from Helsingin Sanomat 13.10.09

Vastalauseiden myrsky ei ole saanut Helsingin kaupunkisuunnitteluvirastoa hautaamaan Katajanokan hotellisuunnitelmaa. [Despite a storm of protest the City Planning Department has not buried its plans for a new hotel in Katajanokka.]

Suuri osa lausunnoista antaa murskaavaa kritiikkiä ristinmuotoista hotellia kohtaan. Sitä arvostelevat taloyhtiöt, asukasyhdistys, kansainväliset arkkitehdit, kaupungin lautakunnat, Museovirasto ja jopa presidentin kanslia. [A large proportion of the representations include crushing criticisms of the cross-shaped hotel. … housing companies (local home owners), residents’ associations, international architects (what are they? probably they mean foreign, though lots of locals are pretty upset too), the Board of Antiquities and even the president’s office (a neighbour too).]

Paikkaa Katajanokan ja empirekeskustan taitekohdassa pidetään vääränä. Myös suunnitelman massiivisuus hirvittää arvostelijoita. [The place is considered unsuitable … the design’s scale…]

Viraston mielestä kielteiset käsitykset johtuvat puutteellisesta havainnemateriaalista. [According to the City Planning Department the negative attitudes are the result of inadequate renderings (that is, concept drawings to show what the finished product would look like.)]

OK. And then from the City’s pages, an announcement from 12.10.09 in which the Department notes that feedback on the plans has been “very critical” but where the Head of the Department Tuomas Rajajärvi is quoted as saying that this 21st century piece of international architecture by the world-famous Swiss duo would be a fine addition to Helsinki’s and Katajanokka’s layered townscape.

More images from their website here. A bit icy, it feels to me. Not even Alvar Aalto’s much-debated sugar cube (below) could feel so freezing.

Aalto at Katajanokka

I’m a bit confused by the blurb because it notes that the old terminal (below) has already been demolished. Not a beautiful building by any means, but I do think it’s still there. Unless it vanished between Sunday and Monday.

Katajanokka's old terminal

Why not turn it into a specialist indoor food market? A fish and meat place with retail and restaurants to show case this up-and-coming Finnish culinary culture? A public space for hire by anyone? A swimming baths? A waterfront park? A nicer, smaller hotel?

P.S. Just back from a cycle ride there. The area already has a hotel and conference centre & car park for exclusive use of hotel guests. Made me feel like they might as well put up a curtain and a sign saying “no access for Helsinki residents”. My tour confirmed that the current building is ugly, the space between the buildings a mess, and that the addition of a hotel here is hardly consonant with what all decision makers say they want, mixed use, mixed tenure, mixed people and a “vibrant” [yeuch!] space. Here’s a photo gallery of an opportunity that may be about to be missed.

Aleksin alku


Aaltoa & Jokelaa

Parking metre




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3 responses to “How did I miss this?! “Renderings to blame in Designer Hotel scrap”

  1. Pingback: A zoo in the city – the city in the zoo? « Jees Helsinki Jees

  2. Pingback: Relief in absentia – waterfront potential (again) « Jees Helsinki Jees

  3. Pingback: Time and Place (or H:ki squeezes into English-language architectural press) « Jees Helsinki Jees

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