“Last summer’s open-air food court experiment at Helsinki’s Senate Square was extremely successful. The project garnered a great deal of praise from local residents and domestic tourists alike, and its importance to the restaurants involved and the vitality of the entire city centre was substantial. The prolonged pandemic has warranted similar stimulus efforts moving forward,” says Mayor of Helsinki Jan Vapaavuori.
“For quite some time now, the situation has been dire for people in the restaurant, event and cultural sectors. Yet these fields are essential for increasing Helsinki’s national and international appeal and notoriety, and for providing employment,” the mayor adds.
The “urban allotment garden” concept used for the Senate Square terrace will be adjusted to suit the Kasarmitori milieu and spiced up with art and maritime touches. The plan is to supplement the terrace with trial activities along the street that would include the access routes to the square, the Helsinki Biennial pavilion and the ferry ports along the shore. As part of the Helsinki Biennial, for example, Janet Echelman’s aerial sculpture will be on display above the Senate Square for the month of August.
“Kasarmitori Square is a wonderful and cohesive urban space that has been underutilised for a long time. The open-air food market and street activities will surely liven up the area and make it fresh and cosy,” says Helsingin Leijona’s operative director Peggy Bauer.
The summer arrangements and activities on Kasarmitori Square are a joint project of various City of Helsinki divisions. The practical organisation and coordination is handled by the real estate development company Helsingin Leijona.
Coronavirus safety measures will be taken into account in the planning of the terrace and street activities from the very start. Careful consideration will be given to social distancing, handwashing stations, queuing directions and other factors.
“We have no way of knowing what the coronavirus situation will be like in Finland this coming summer, but we will be sure to adhere to whatever restrictions and regulations are in effect,” Bauer says.
“We need something to look forward to, as we cope with this challenging spring and the latest coronavirus shutdown. The thought of enjoying good food and drink on a terrace in the summer sun warms the heart and provides a sparkle of hope,” says Mayor Vapaavuori.
If everything goes according to plan, the summer terrace at Kasarmitori Square will open on 12 June, Helsinki Day, and continue until mid-August. Restaurateurs will be invited to submit applications starting on 6 April. More details will be provided at a later date.