There are, we admit, some truly awful examples of architecture, planning and interior decoration, even in Helsinki. At JHJ we would prefer to think of this city as a haven of perfection, something that would make those Finns who wax lyrical about Finnish design sound merely self-satisfied rather than unbearably smug.
There are some great examples of lovely old interiors being put to delicious new uses. Here’s one, Carelia across from the Opera. Formerly a chemist (apothecary), it is now one of JHJ’s favourite Helsinki restaurants. [Make that “favourite restaurants” Ed.]
Alas, we do have the problem of routinely disastrous refits, as Panu Kaila mentioned in the article in Rakennettu Ympäristö we referred to in our last post. Between spitting bile about cr*p restaruant interiors, he wrote about the legislation on protecting buildings and noted a rather sweet curiosity: the law on chemists or apothecaries.
If a chemist undertakes to maintain a historically valuable chemist shop (apteekki) interior, they pay less for the various licences that allow them to dispense drugs legally. That explains, perhaps, why there are still a few chemists in Helsinki with rows and rows of drawers and shelves in beautifully varnished wood, “decorated” with bottles and vials carrying text in old fashioned type faces. Here’s the one on the corner of Eerikinkatu and Lapinlahdenkatu.