Helsinki as an example of creative industries driving urban revitalization programs

Published On December 2, 2013 | By Katharina Kriegel | News from Europe

Author: Richard Layman

What are the Creative Industries?
There are a variety of definitions of what industries comprise the “creative industries” (Creative Economy Report, 2008, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) which include arts,  digital media, architecture, publishing, software and hardware development, design, fashion, and advertising.  The “creative economy” is broader than the creative industries as it includes those sectors impacted by creative products and services, for example, how social media may impact fundraising for projects or organizations such as “crowdfunding.”
The basic point is that knowledge and innovation are generated for economic purposes, for exchange and transactional purposes.
Note that programs promoting creative industries can be controversial amongst artists, who see a conflict because their creative impulse to create art products is not necessarily intended for monetization, the process of monetization can involve compromises, and support for arts and artistic disciplines by governments and businesses tends to be directed to organizations, not individuals.
On the other hand, revitalization efforts are focused on economic improvement and drawing new investment to places experiencing disinvestment.  Creative industry initiatives tend to be more economically sustainable, as they produce products and services that are sold and generate revenue, while cultural programs tend to require ongoing subsidy, which is increasingly difficult for municipalities in the face of shrinking budgets and increased demands.
The bold Marimekko Unikko print was first introduced in 1964. 

Helsinki, Finland and the Creative Industries
Belying its size (and aided by the ability to leverage production and distribution chains created by firms in nearby countries, in particular Sweden and Denmark, and being able to leverage the concepts of Scandinavian design and Nordic cool), Finland and Helsinki have played an outsized role in the design, manufacture and sale of design-forward housewares (Arabia Porcelain, Iittala Glass), furniture (Artek), textiles (Marimekko), and industrial products including Kone elevators and escalators and Nokia’s cellular telephony products.

Architect Alvar Aalto was a prominent architect in the “Scandanavian modernism” style and an integral element in the development of Finnish design industries (for example Artek was founded by Aalto with his wife Aino, and in turn, Aino Aalto was a prominent designer in her own right).
Creative industries make up 12.5% of the companies operating in metropolitan Helsinki, 8.7% of the jobs, and 6% of the local economy.
Creative Industries Finland
Norden, Nordic Innovation Center
Creative Directions: A Nordic framework for supporting the creative industries, Norden
Creative Helsinki, City of Helsinki
Creative Metropoles project, European Union INTERREG program
How to Support Creative Industries:  Good Practices from European Cities, Creative Metropoles

Helsinki as a revitalization case study
An article on Helsinki for this series of articles on culture districts in Europe, as part of the Transit | Creative Placemaking program in Baltimore sponsored by the European Union National Institutes of Culture Washington Cluster is a tough prospect, because even though Helsinki offers a compelling example of how cities can organize their participation in arts and culture development in intricate, innovative, and comprehensive ways, it provides an equally interesting case study on a more meta focus on how cities can support the creative industries and the creative economy.

Right:  KONE TransitMaster escalator.

This article will focus on how Helsinki is an important example of place-based revitalization strategies that support design industries and export markets as opposed to initiatives that are more focused on leisure activities, the development of artistic expression, and the support and marketing of cultural institutions, events, and programming.
Helsinki as a World Design Capital

Additionally, while the first article in this series (“European best practice urban revitalization initiatives at the cross-national, national, and regional levels“) discussed four types of culture district revitalization initiatives (two by the European Union, and other national or local efforts), Helsinki introduces the globe as another  scale, initiatives involving world-wide organizations, such as how the
International Council of Societies of Industrial Design sponsors the World Design Capital program, and Helsinki was the designee in 2012.

Connected to the Baltic Sea by the Gulf of Finland, Helsinki, the capital of Finland, has 65 miles of coastline within the city and more than 300 islands. The city is defined in large part by its waterfront location, although maritime industrial activities have shifted to locations outside of Helsinki proper, to take advantage of modern port, warehousing, and logistics practices associated with containerization.  Travel & Leisure Magazine calls Helsinki one of the world’s great waterfront cities.
The largest city in the nation, Helsinki has a population of 610,000 and a metrpolitan population of 1.3 million.  Helsinki is the country’s leading political, financial, commercial, media, educational, and cultural center.
Helsinki Port, and Lutheran Cathedral (Tuomiokirkko)Flickr photo of Helsinki’s Port and the Lutheran Cathedral by X_Tan.

A highly livable city.  Although Helsinki is the second most northern world capital, meaning that the city is cold and dark for goodly amounts of time (but also light very late in the summer), it’s ranked as one of the world’s most livable cities, placing as high as first in the 2011 Monocle Magazine survey (a great video on the city is accessible from the webpage), although this year is ranked third (“The quest for liveable cities,” Financial Times), and is eighth on the list compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
Tourism.  The city receives between 1.5 and 2 million tourists annually; Russia–St. Petersburg is 185 miles from Helsinki–is the source of almost half the country’s tourists (approximately 8 million).  Tourism has dropped in response to the 2008 recession.
Helsinki TramVisit Helsinki promotes three different tram routes (the 3T tram pictured at left is now the #2 tram, Flickr photo by osamu ito) as convenient ways to travel around the city between destinations, and promotes certain routes for tours specific to architecture and design and food.
Visit Helsinki
Cultural institutions.  Befitting its place as the national capital, Helsinki benefits from cultural and economic development spending by both the national and municipal governments.
Helsinki has the nation’s densest collection of cultural institutions, including more than 100 museums and arts institutions, including the Finnish National Gallery, which is comprised of three separate art museums; the Design Museum; the Museum of Finnish Architecture; the National Museum of Finland and the Helsinki City Museum; three major theatres, Finnish National Theatre, the Helsinki City Theatre, and the Swedish Theatre (Svenska Teatern); and three concert halls, the Finnish National Opera, the Finlandia concert hall and the Helsinki Music Centre.
Helsinki supports culture through a Cultural Office, and related city-supported programs including the City Arts Museum; Philharmonic Orchestra; Library System; and the City Arts Museum; for eight cultural centers each with a specific focus and outfitted with:

“auditoria for performances, an art gallery, a library, premises for arts education, which are shared with adult education centres, conference rooms, a box office for tickt sales and a cafe;”

four joint venture cultural centers including the Cable Factory and Suvilahti (both discussed below), the Lasipalatsi Film and Media Centre, and the Tennispalatsi Centre, which includes movie theaters and two museums; studio space and residential spaces for artists; and funding for festivals and other programming.
The city is repositioning the Finlandia Park area as a focused cultural institutions district, with  Finlandia Hall, Helsinki City Museum, Helsinki Music Centre, the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, and the National Opera all in close proximity.

Libraries.  Helsinki intends to build a new Central Library.  While they are seeking architectural distinctiveness and environmental sustainability for the building, they are equally focused on achieving the civic potential in the role and place of the Library in the “Heart of the Metropolis”–the library as an experiential stage and as a foundational element of an information ecosystem.

Left:  as part of the promotion of the Central Library project, the Library outfitted a number of Christiana cargo bikes as rolling libraries.  Photo courtesy of Christiana Bikes.
An  competition winning design–“Käännös” by ALA Architects, rendering pictured above–will complement an ensemble of public buildings including the Finnish Parliament building, Helsinki Music Centre, Finlandia Hall, Sanoma House and Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art.
Also, the Guggenheim Museum is pursuing the creation of a museum branch in Helsinki, in part as node in of its international network of museums (notably, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain) and as a way to leverage the visitor and knowledge flows associated with Finland’s being a global center of design, architecture, and art, and its position as a gateway between West and East.  (Press release; Guggenheim Helsinki Revised Proposal 2013).

Right:  Lux Ratikka tram from the 2013 Lux Festival.  Designed and fabricated by students from the Theatre Academy Helsinki, the installation uses programmable LED floodlights intended for theatre use.

The city has a wide array of festivals and outdoor markets, including annual Helsinki Design Festival, the Lux Festival in early January, showing dramatic light-based installations during the city’s darkest nights, the City Festival and a two-week Arts Festival.

Architecture, landscape and urban design.  Architecturally, the city’s core is defined by the neoclassical style, because German architect Carl Ludvig Engel (known for his work in St, Petersburg, Russia) was given the commission to design and plan the city.  Senate Square, at the heart of the city, is framed by public and ecclesiastical buildings designed by Engel between 1822 and 1852:  the Government Palace; the main building of the University of Helsinki; the National Library of Finland; and Helsinki Cathedral.
Lutheran Cathedral sits on Senate Square in Downtown Helsinki in winter.  Photo:  Ralph Larmann/Helsinki City Tourist & Convention Bureau.
Later styles, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries include Art Nouveau, as practiced by a leading proponent of the style, Eliel Saarinen, culminating in his Central Railway Station.

Beginning with Alvar Aalto in the 20th century, and continuing today–the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art  by Steven Holl is a recent example, Helsinki is a great location for the practice of modern architecture.
Alvar Aalto is the most renowned Finnish architect practicing in the modernist or functionalist style.  Interestingly,Aalto aimed to design complete buildings including the furniture, textiles and housewares, and incorporated wood–a key element of Scandanavian furniture design–as a fundamental material in many of his buildings.
The city has many other monuments, landmarks, heritage buildings such as the UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site, the Suomenlinna Sea Fortress, designed to protect Helsinki from seaborne invasion and waterfront promenades, quays, marinas, slips and beaches.

Music.  Finally, the city plays a leading role in modern classical music, jazz, and popular music.  It is associated with Jean Sibelius, although for a goodly portion of his career he lived north of the city. The Helsinki Music Centre is home to the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the Sibelius Academy, the largest music university in Europe.  The Finnish National Opera presents as many as 300 performances annually, and there are chamber, baroque, and jazz orchestras regularly performing, a variety of venues presenting popular music, and a full schedule of music festivals throughout the year (but especially in summer).

Local governance.  Starting in the 1960s, the city experienced suburban outmigration so it was not until the mid-1990s that the city started growing.  Until then, much of the growth in the metropolitan area occurred outside of the city proper, especially in abutting cities such as Espoo and Vantaa, and these cities experienced significant growth and expansion.  As Helsinki has added population, and some local government functions such as transport and waste management are delivered at the metropolitan scale, proposals for municipal consolidation–13 cities to 4–have been raised, although elected officials in communities that would be consolidated are opposed (“Working group presents Helsinki merger proposals,” YLE public broadcasting) and talk continues.

Helsinki Revitalization Initiatives
Waterfront revitalization initiatives are typically focused on leisure, recreation, and shopping and the  Inner Harbor in Baltimore is actually one of the most prominent global examples of a successful process, which has culminated in a heavy stream of visitation to a great number of visitor attractions including the Harborplace Market buildings, the Baltimore Convention Center, the National Aquarium, Science Center, hotels, and the adjacent Camden Yards baseball and football stadiums.

More than 60 projects were completed, complemented by some redevelopment in the adjacent commercial center of the city.  However, the base of visitors and the array of attractions has to be constantly refreshed to maintain patronage, which makes leisure oriented revitalization initiatives somewhat less sustainable.  (Then again, the process of maintaining urban vitality is never finished.)
Helsinki too has focused revitalization efforts on its waterfront districts, as maritime industrial activity has relocated to other locations more suitable for the requirements of containerized shopping.  Helsinki has been engaged in such efforts since the 1980s, and current programs in the Kalasatama, Jätkäsaari and Kruunuvuorenranta districts, with residential, commercial, and cultural components, are expected to be “finished” around 2030.
Because Helsinki/Finland has successfully maintained an art and design creative-industrial cluster and network comprised of manufacturers, educational institutions, support organizations, and retailers, it has been able to leverage this resource as a key element of revitalization programming.
While the primary intent of city planning efforts has been to use repurposed waterfront lands for residential purposes, the Arabianranta and Ruholahti districts in particular have benefited from actions which allowed these districts to develop a balance of residential and commercial uses, where the latter focus on cultural and creative industries production, leveraging existing design networks and processes, instead of having to focus on the creation of new tourist-oriented leisure activities and attractions.

Arabianranta and TaiK
For 100 years Arabianranta (Arabia Beach) was the location of the Arabia Porcelain factory.  When that business relocated, the institution formerly known as TaiK, the University of Arts and Design (now the Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture) moved into the old factory building.
The school approached the city about strengthening the surrounding the area so that they would stay in the district long term.  In response, the city initiated a master planning effort aimed at reshaping the district around arts and design, while adding a wide range of housing types, including social housing.
To achieve the goals of master plan–10,000 new residents; 13,000 students; 7,000 creative industry jobs–the city created a special purpose corporation, Art and Design City Helsinki–to carry it out, gifted by the city with control of the majority of the developable parcels present in the district.
The plan focuses on engaging and connecting the waterfront, with a large park at the center.  New construction projects to devote 1%-2% of the project cost to public art, and the open spaces (yards and gardens) are collectively owned and managed and also include art elements.
Other educational institutions joined TaiK in Arabianranta, including the Helsinki Pop & Jazz Conservatory, some units of the Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, the Arcada University of Applied Sciences, and two vocational institutes, Heltek for audiovisual professions, and Prakticum for other disciplines. Two business incubators, the Arabus Design, Media and Art Business Center and Designium, the Center for Innovation in Design, were also created.
Design and media businesses, with either or both a business-to-consumer and business-to-business focus have been attracted to the district as a result.
Helsinki Living Labs.  As part of an initiative to strengthen Arabianranta’s appeal to technology businesses, a high speed broadband and wireless digital network was installed in the area in the late 1990s.  Internet services are treated as part of the utility infrastructure and every dwelling unit has a 10Mb Internet connection free of charge, plus fiber optic television service and Internet-protocol telephone service.
As an element of the service and as a research and innovation initiative, Helsinki Virtual Village was established in 1998 as a social and civic digital information system (“State-of-the-art in utilizing Living Labs approach to user centric ICT innovation – a European approach“) serving the district’s students, companies, and residents.
Apartment buildings have an eHousemanager to maintain and update information and provide training. The latest element of the system is a public digital information network, “Helsinki Virtual Village,” with screens in public areas of civic centers, shopping areas, schools and business districts.

Ruoholahti and The Cable Factory (Kaapelitehdas)
Nokia once produced cable at a large manufacturing plant in the Ruoholahti district, a manufacturing and maritime district close to Helsinki’s Downtown.  When production ceased, the company rented space in the emptied factory to a variety of small businesses and arts entrepreneurs.
In response to the call by artists who created an organization (Pro Kaapell) to advocate for their ideas, necessary because the city had other plans for the space, the building was acquired by the city and converted into a mixed use cultural center called Kaapelitehdas (Cable Factory), which is managed by a special purpose organization tasked to support entrepreneurial creative endeavors by providing extremely low cost space.  The operating budget comes from rental income.
KaapelitehdasRight:  Ruoholahti district.  The Cable Factory complex is the middle building on on the waterfront.  Flickr photo © SkyPhoto.

The building is large, over 500,000 square feet, and supports more than 250 tenants and a wide variety of uses including large and small exhibition, meeting, and conference spaces; three museums, the Finnish Museum of Photography, Theatre Museum, and Hotel and Restaurant Museum; dance spaces; art galleries; workshops and studios; incubator spaces for developing businesses; training centers; rehearsal studios; broadcasting stations; and restaurant and catering services.
Because of the proximity to Downtown, new construction had the effect of repurposing this area as an extension of Downtown (“Helsinki’s Second Commercial District,” Sponda).  The Helsinki Metro was extended to Ruoholahti in 1993 and in 1999, Nokia opened their primary research facility there.  Housing has brought new uses to the district and a short canal was built through the area to leverage proximity to the waterfront and to extend the quality of public spaces for residents and visitors.

The retail-focused Helsinki Design District
The Design Museum, the Museum of Finnish Architecture and Design Forum Finland anchor the Design District located in Helsinki’s core.  Design Forum is a multi-faceted craft and design support organization, featuring a gallery, information kiosk, showroom, and shop.
The Marimekko flagship store is located here, as are many other fashion- and design-forward shops, and even second-hand stores such as Artek 2nd ­Cycle and Helsinki Secondhand featuring vintage furniture and design products.
Design Forum Finland, sponsored by the Finnish Society for Crafts and Design, was the initiator of the Design District concept, brand, and organization, which now promotes collectively over 200 stores, boutiques, restaurants, and bars.

Comparing the districts
Both Arabianranta and Ruoholahti districts are oriented to creative business activity, while the Design District is a consumer-retail focused endeavor.  While there was a great deal of serendipity involved in developing a specific vision for each district, in each case these initiatives were able to build on existing creative and business relationships, educational institutions, and networks, resulting in a different set of outcomes based on the specifics of each setting, but not having to be conjured from scratch.
Arabianranta attracts larger firms active in industrial design, who seek to leverage the academic programs based in the district that focus on industrial and product design, fashion and apparel, cultural and creative studies, and digital media.
Because the Cable Factory rents space to hundreds of artists and small firms, the Ruoholahti district, while still a location for large firms like Nokia because of its proximity to the central business district, tends to attract smaller firms active in the fields of music, media, software development, art, and exhibition.

Wikipedia photo of the Suvilahti complex.
Interestingly, based on the success of the Cable Factory, Helsinki is using the same model in the Sörnäinen district north of Downtown–developing a large creative arts incubator out of an otherwise hard to repurpose industrial complex–through the repurposing of a energy utility complex comprised of nine buildings and two large gasometers (tanks that stored natural gas) into the Suvilahti arts center.

Digital media and innovation
Nokia, which for many years was a leading cellular telephone and wireless telephony equipment manufacturer (more recently the company has sold its consumer telephony business to Microsoft, while still being a global leader in wireless networking systems), has helped to seed the information technology hardware and software sectors in Finland, primarily in the Helsinki region.
The country is one of the most mobile Internet-enabled places in the world.  The Helsinki library system claims to be the first system to offer Internet access, and the country has a number of successful mobile applications development and e-commerce firms, including Rovio, a video game developer and entertainment company known for Angry Birds.

Commercial efforts are complemented by some very interesting municipal information and communications technology initiatives.  As mentioned above, Arabianranta was an earliest examples of the creation of a 100% wired neighborhood and the Living Lab virtual network has been termed a “Social Silicon Valley.”  The Library has two especially innovative programs.  Library 10, a special library focused on music and culture, tarted as a program in the Cable Factory, but now is located elsewhere.  In addition to its book and media collection, the library provides space and equipment for the production and presentation of independently-produced work.
Meetingpoint is an experimental library without books, which provides technical assistance and guidance for digital communications and living in a digitally-connected society.  Meetingpoint also develops digital communications platforms for organizations, with a focus on civic participation.  Both programs have extended hours, open as early as 8am and close as late as 10pm.  Both programs are seen as models for helping to develop new ways of developing programs, organizing space, and serving patrons for the new Central Library.
While a number of US cities are creating “innovation officer” positions and units (“Kansas City Joins States, Cities with Chief Innovation Officers,” Governing Magazine), it’s unlikely that comparable programs in the US operate at the scale of Forum Virium Helsinki, a public-private partnership but a unit of the Helsinki government, which develops new digital services in cooperation with companies, the City, and other public sector organizations.  Products are developed and tested with Helsinki residents.  The aim is to create better services and new business, plus to open up contacts for international markets.
he organization pursues innovative digital projects in five areas: Wellbeing, Media, Smart City, Innovative Procurement, and Innovation Communities.   Dozens of projects are underway.  One recent example was a test combining transit media cards with library cards as one integrated product.  (Note that in the US, Arlington County Virginia’s Mobility Lab has a similar action-research focus, although it is exclusively focused on transportation.)

Helsinki | 2012 World Design Capital
Helsinki, along with the metropolitan cities of Espoo, Vantaa, Lahti, and Kauniainen, was the World Design Capital in 2012. The vision of the program was to promote the idea and use of design  and to find new contexts for the application of design thinking and methods via the theme of “Open Helsinki — Embedding Design in Life.”
Two of the six program categories were “Transforming the City,” which focused on projects transforming the urban environment, and “Rethinking Design,” which mounted new projects in service design, strategic design, and information design.  Most programs have continued beyond 2012.

Right: Opening ceremony in Senate Square, the 2012 World Design Capital Year.  Photo by Lauri Rotko.

About 2.5 million people participated in a total of 580 projects and 2,800 events, which were produced by 290 organizations and 14,500 volunteers.
Projects ranged from the expo’s welcome center, built in wood by students from Aalto University’s wood program, a children’s book cafe designed by children, public exercise stations built by the city parks department, 12 separate health system improvement projects in the sponsor cities, undertaken by the 365 Wellbeing project of Aalto University, and KONE opened various facilities to tours as well as created a “reference tour” of KONE equipment installed throughout Helsinki as a way for people to see KONE products and design “in action.”
The city achieved many positive outcomes from the program:
1. Design became a matter of social interest and a topic of public discussion.
2. City residents gained a deeper insight into the importance of design and its impact on their daily life.
3. The user’s perspective in design was highlighted.
4. Design was used to solve problems in different environments.
5. Design education for children and youth was increased.
6. The design world came together in the design capital.
7. Helsinki raised its profile as a design destination.
8. The business community gained a better understanding of design as a competitive edge.
9. New forms of collaboration emerged in and between different sectors.
10. New methods and places for doing things together sprung up around the city.

- Final report summary in English
- “Year 2012 was special — design, collaboration, commitment and new achievements,” Helsinki Quarterly, 2012, issue 4, pp. 3-5.

Conclusion and some thoughts related to Baltimore
The lesson that Helsinki offers to most urban revitalization programs concerns the ability to leverage the existence and network of locally-based creative industries and educational institutions to develop business-sector programs alongside the culture and tourist-based programs typically at the foundation of such efforts.
Revitalization initiatives that include creative economy elements may be more sustainable and have greater and longer term success and higher economic returns.
Even so, Helsinki’s success has been in part serendipitous, built on organizations like the University of Arts and Design choosing to move to a particular district, and the spillover benefit that resulted from having such a high quality anchor that was not only an “art” institution, but one with prominent programs in monetizable design disciplines.
Similarly, the creative potential of the Cable Factory as a cultural center was not necessarily appreciated by the City at first, it had to be pointed out to them by creative entrepreneurs who organized an advocacy group to pressure the city to take on the responsibility for maintaining and expanding such a use.  And even the city’s retail-focused Design District coalesced more because of the efforts of the Design Forum Finland rather than through purposive efforts by the city’s Economic Development Department.
These examples demonstrate the need for nongovernmental initiative and organization.  But at the same time having a municipal government willing to consider new ideas is absolutely essential.  For example, the Cable Factory might not have been the city’s idea originally, but they embraced the idea and went on to develop similar cultural center initiatives in other areas of the city, to drive cultural programming and/or place-based revitalization, depending on particular needs and vision.
Similarly, Helsinki is fortunate in that a number of creative industries academic programs already existed, whereas in other cities, existing academic institutions may not have the full range of the disciplines necessary to support such efforts.  A difficult and important question to raise is can such programs be developed and/or added by local academic institutions if the opportunity presents itself?
These lessons are relevant to Baltimore, although Baltimore has a number of creative public-private agencies, like the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts and arts-related educational institutions such as the Maryland Institute of Contemporary Arts.
Working to develop arts districts initiatives that go beyond more typical culture and tourist attractions may be the next step in assessing the impact and future directions of the arts district programs, the successes and opportunities present within the specific districts (Station North, Highlandtown, Bromo Tower) and how to leverage other residential and business districts and civic assets elsewhere in the city that can contribute to the success of these districts.

Other interesting initiatives and programs

  • Helsinki’s municipal research office, Helsinki Urban Facts.  Helsinki has a wide ranging municipal research office, created by the merger of the former statistics office and the City Archives.  They do a great deal of research and publish a four times/year journal on Helsinki issues.  One issue each year is published in English.  This type of self-critical review and innovation unit is for the most part, unprecedented at the level of a municipality, although in the US, some states have equivalent operations such as the Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington.
  • Given all the difficulties we see in the US about the legalization of food trucks, home-produced foods, and the sale of prepared foods at farmers markets, Helsinki’s Restaurant Day, a municipally-sanctioned challenge to government regulation, is a day (now four weekends annually) where anyone can set up a “restaurant” and sell food to the public.  Restaurants can be set up on a park bench, run out of a car, in a house or apartment, or other more traditional offerings.  Restaurant Day started in Helsinki, but now takes place in more than 30 countries.

Photo of Kulttuurisauna by Bryan Boyer. 

  • Kulttuurisauna is a public sauna, located on the waterfront in the Kallio neighborhood, created by the NOW Architecture group, designer Nene Tsuboi and architect Tuomas Toivonen (“Conversation with Nene Tsuboi & Tuomas Toivonen (Kulttuurisauna),” Brickstarter), as a way to renew Helsinki’s public sauna culture.  (There were 200 public saunas in 1930 and 5 such facilities operate today.)
  • Trans Europe Halles.  An initiative linking more than 50 independent cultural centers across Europe. Collectively the members advocate and promote independent culture, conduct capacity building and collaborative initiatives, share knowledge and exhibits, and provide technical assistance to the development of new cultural centers, especially as part of adaptive reuse projects of underutilized buildings.

(Featured Image: Courtesy of Lux Helsinki)

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