It is no secret that the Helsinki city centre is the heart of commercial services in Finland. Helsinki’s reputation as the ”pocket-sized metropolis” is largely due to the compact downtown area: the City Centre is all about human-scale. Public transportation here is world-class, receiving a significant boost from digitalisation: for example, the tram stops feature e-info boards and the prize-winning route app Reittiopas gets you connected in a flash.
A great majority of Helsinki citizens (89%) are ‘very satisfied’ with the Helsinki Metropolitan Area public transportation system. Logistics is not the only thing that runs smoothly here, either: The European Quality of Life in Cities barometer reveals that the citizens of Helsinki are more satisfied with their quality of life than anybody else in Europe. The residents are especially pleased about their own lives, exercise/sporting opportunities and residential areas.
What’s more, the locals are big on citizen activism. Such international phenomena as Restaurant Day and Cleaning Day originate from Helsinki, having been created by ordinary citizens. The City Centre with its pedestrian areas, squares and parks invites visitors to various urban events throughout the year.
In all considerations, the role of waterfront is very significant. For example, the shoreline of Eteläsatama (South Harbour) continues to brim with potential, even as new projects have already been realised in the area.
At the same time, the downtown pedestrian section is expanded, the central blocks of the historic section are re-energised, parks are renovated, and more housing is built into the area. The City Centre offers rich experiences for both citizens and visitors.
The central quarters of Helsinki between Market Square and Senate Square, the Tori Quarters, are undergoing a thorough process of re-vitalisation. This historic centre of Helsinki is nowadays an exciting area where the Helsinki of the future is, for its part, both created and experienced. A renovation project in the quarters has opened both temporary and permanent spaces for new actors and events.
The central location of the Tori Quarters enables encounters between people from near and far. Encounters are also made possible by new concepts emerging in the Tori Quarters: street festivals, outdoor dining, workshops, pop-ups…
Participation in the activities is low-threshold, high-fun.
On the west side of the Central Railway Station, one finds the Töölö Bay, a popular outdoor and recreational area. The Töölö Bay area is home to, for example, Finlandia Hall, the Finnish National Opera and the Helsinki Music Centre. A special pedestrian and cycling route – by the name of Baana – leads from the West Harbour to the Railway Station. Built into a former railway corridor, Baana serves up to thousands of people daily.
Presently, the new residential and office buildings constructed next to railway tracks in the Töölö Bay area are finished. Töölö Bay Park was opened in 2016 and the much expected Central Library will open its doors in December 2018.
Helsinki Central Library Oodi is the blueprint for a totally new type of library: a house of reading that is very much about the urban experience. Oodi will provide its users with knowledge, new skills and stories, and will be an ‘easy access’ place for learning, story immersion, work and relaxation.
The Helsinki Olympic Stadium is undergoing a thorough renovation and modernisation. The Stadium will obtain extensive new facilities, while retaining the original, critically acclaimed architecture.
Thanks to renovation, the Stadium stands will be fully covered and parking will be redirected, vacating a large field in front of the building for new uses. There will also be extensive new restaurant facilities at the Stadium – great news for patrons coming to see a game or a concert!
Helsinki has always spearheaded the cause of urban culture in its various forms. The vibrant museum scene has been widely recognised internationally and it is also true that it is rare to find so many quality museums within a walking distance in other cities of the world. In downtown Helsinki, culture is within reach of everybody.
The Amos Anderson Art Museum, maintained by the foundation Föreningen Konstsamfundet, will open a brand new, state-of-the-art exhibition space on Lasipalatsi Square and in the Lasipalatsi building in 2018. The museum will be a creative, pleasant environment for visitors, a place that is open to experimentation and welcoming to new types of collaboration.
As Amos Anderson Art Museum moves to Lasipalatsi, this means that the cultural offering of the City Centre will be significantly boosted, further cementing Helsinki’s reputation as an international superhub of visual arts. The new museum will join such classics as Ateneum and Kiasma museums in the core downtown area.