Urban Living

… urban housing schemes offer both density and individual privacy, and take their place in the continuum of city life.

Peter Davey, Helin Workshop, 2011

Eiranranta Housing

The site of the Eiranranta (‘Eira shore’) blocks of flats was originally a wide, open, rocky seashore area in the south-west corner of the Helsinki peninsula. There was a bathhouse at the turn of the meandering shoreline opposite the Munkkisaari island; a wooden bridge led to Munkkisaari as an extension to Hernesaarenkatu street.

Pan-Gyo Housing

The National Housing Corporation of Korea organised an invited international competition following the rules of the UIA concerning the Pan-Gyo area. Among the competitors were well-known names, such as the Dutch MVRDV and Ben van Berkel. The first prize was shared between three entries, designed by the teams of Riken Yamamoto, Mark Mack and Helin & Co. They were each commissioned to design a third of the area.

Icon Apartments

Chengdu has been the capital of the province of Sichuan since 1368. Archaeological discoveries have proved that the population history of the area goes back over 4000 years. In 2014, the population of the administrative area of Chengdu was about 14.5 million. The climate is subtropical, mild and humid round the year, and is affected by monsoons. The circumstances are favourable for cultivation and food production. Chengdu is a national centre of electronics and IT industry. It is also the centre of financial economy and the biggest cluster of commerce in western China.

The Sibelius City Block

In 1990, the city of Borås in south Sweden organised an architectural competition for a new garden city. The initiative was made by city building director Hasse Johansson, who hoped the competition to offer new openings for Swedish housing production, which was petrified by bureaucracy. It was a Nordic competition comprising four city blocks, which were intended to be designed by architects from Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark. The aim was to build to the woody landscape of varied topography a functioning, close-to-nature community with services, highlighting the best traditions of social housing in each Nordic country.

Aurinkohalssi Block of Flats

The village of Vuosaari was part of the rural municipality of Helsinki until 1966, when a bridge was opened between the village and Helsinki’s Vartiokylä district and Vuosaari was incorporated into the city of Helsinki. The villa settlements on the Kallahdenniemi and Ramsinniemi peninsulas date back to the beginning of the 20th century, but otherwise the area was agricultural until the Saseka company started the production of sandlime brick and lightweight concrete there in the 1930s. In 1978 these operations were moved elsewhere.

Riontähti Block of Flats

At the beginning of the 20th century Jätkäsaari, Hietasaari and Saukko were still separate islands off the south-western coast of Helsinki. When the construction of a new harbour started in 1913, Jätkäsaari was connected to the mainland by means of a broad bridge and a railway extension was built to serve the harbour. Hietasaari and Saukko were connected to the harbour area by landfill. The West Harbour, then including Hietalahti also, was extended up to the 1970s and landfills around Jätkäsaari were continued. Finally, traffic to and from the harbour grew too heavy for the street network of central Helsinki. Most harbour operations were moved to Vuosaari in 2008; only passenger traffic to Tallinn remained in Jätkäsaari. A new residential area began to be built in the area of the former container port.

Primary-Stingy Blocks of Flats

The area of Kivikko, whose name derives, as a Finnish translation, from the age-old Stensböle estate, belonged to the rural municipality of Helsinki until its incorporation into the city of Helsinki in 1946. Construction there started in 1992. The new housing in southern Kivikko was completed in 2017. The first 80 inhabitants moved to the address Kivikonkaari 38 in early 2014. It is one of the buildings of the “Primary-Stingy Block of Flats” project, which is included in Helsinki City’s programme aiming to develop multistorey housing. The objective in the design of the Primary Stingy Blocks was to minimise total energy consumption.

Sandels Senior Citizens’ home

Population aging challenges architects to develop new models for improving the quality of life of seniors, from details of dwelling to solutions concerning urban fabric. In a well-functioning, accessible environment architecture can also evoke memories and provide stimulus.

Laivapoika Block of Flats

Journalist Riitta Astikainen, roaming Helsinki’s new neighbourhoods Herttoniemenranta and Ruoholahti when they were under construction in 1995, noted, The more mediocre, the better. That is the spirit of construction in Helsinki. In her article published in the monthly supplement (Kuukausiliite) of the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper, she also found a successful site. Architect Pekka Helin’s office has designed a handsome building for Ruoholahti, the Laivapoika block of flats, she wrote and asked, How was this building achieved, so clearly standing out from its surroundings?