Vertical Helsinki Take 1

You might think I’d want to talk about Hotel Torni, perhaps. It’s not quite a sky-scraper, but it’s high and was certainly the highest and most talked-about building when it was built in 1931. Torni (“tower”) is also known in tourist literature as the place where after the wars (as we Finns say) the Joint Allied Commission made their home while they worked out how to deal with Finland. And I’m not even talking about the Itämerentori office building,  by Finland’s favourite designer of corporate architectural thrust in the nokia-age, Pekka Helin and his partner, Peter Verhe. Though both of these tall buildings are on an internet-site of favourite skyscrapers of Finland.

No, I am talking about the life you see going on up in the higher floors in Töölö. Today, with last week’s autumn chill still here, the burghers here are settling in for the winter, it would seem. I know, because I’ve seen them hanging out of windows and hanging out on balconys. With the natural changes of height in the local topography, you can get quite a sense of vertigo just on a third floor, I can tell you that! And most of these buildings, here since between the 1910s and the 1940s, are no more than six stories high.

Perhaps Christmas is going to be early too, or some of our neighbours favour a North-American style calendar. I mean the kind where eager anticipation translates into almost-gaudy decoration around this time of year. On a third floor (by Finnish reckoning) we now have what look unmistakeably like Christmas wreaths made with fir-tree branches. On a sixth floor in another other direction we have a couple on a balcony sipping beers, all pink, with their chests open to the elements after what one hopes is a sauna. On a fifth floor, also facing the courtyard, not the street, there was a smoker on the chair she must have left on the balcony for that very purpose. On another balcony someone’s clothes were left to air. Not quite the balconies of West Side Story, but good life nonetheless.

p.s. We are considering asking Eniro (whose maps page the above image was nicked from) to do some of their helicopter shots when the trees are not so green. At the moment many are rather yellow.

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