But will it congeal?

This post might have been titled “becoming renderings”.

A neat play on words, we thought. “Renderings” being those shiny architectural and planning pictures spawned by entrepreneurial urban governance. And “becoming” having at least two meanings: the verb “to become” and the adjective meaning “attractive” or something. A virtual Helsinki of pretty pictures is a reality.

Many, many more of these computer-generated daydreams can be found online, particularly on the City Planning Department’s website. E.g. here on Hernesaari. (Planning for the new, massively enlarged Hernesaari, including centrally located helipad of interest to one percent of one percent (at a stretch) of Helsinki residents, is tomorrow’s show in Laituri’s busy programme of architainment. You can go and join in should you wish).

And here are the images of Kirjavasatama.fi the ideas competition for the South Harbour. Go check out the hundreds of “likes” for these, er, … please someone tell me this is all just one huge joke!!!

The Hernesaari images I’ve copied here are exceedingly subtle in comparison. And in least one of the photos of the suggested/ dreamed up new neighbourhood has some natural-looking waterfront. Well, natural, or unnatural, doesn’t really matter. Most of Hernesaari was reclaimed from the sea to start with. Complete fabrication yet solid. Part of my natural habitat when I was growing up, over time its artifice had congealed into the rest of the city easily enough.

So, a city is inevitable change. Bits of this. Bits of that. And bits of the other. Material. Cultural. Thoughts and ideas (even renderings!) Expectations and promises. Disappointments and scapegoatings. Money. Weeds and trees. Plans. People. Steel, copper and bitumen. All this comes together and sometimes congeals into a real place worth naming. Like Helsinki, Helsingfors.

But a city is really mostly qualities. Qualities that are hard to describe in words, even in pictures. People who have a choice about where to move understand about the qualities of a place. Nobody decides to live in (or falls in love with) a place for its economic figures. As this interesting (freely available) article about the USA shows.

Hope the autumn ends soon and turns to winter.

But even if it doesn’t a city seems to congeal in its habits. Helsinki, for example, leaves its shoes by the door even when it’s relatively dry and clean on the streets.


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