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architecture in Helsinki

Written on: Saturday June 28th, 2008

A journal entry from: Exploring the Baltic Sea by Yacht

architecture in Helsinki: something to look at while in the Finnish capital, also the name of an australian band.

i often wondered why someone would name their band "architecture in helsinki" well, if your music sounds random and a bit mismatched, eclectic and decorative, and perhaps a bit eccentric, then it might very well match the buildings in Finland's capital city. and what does one expect, when visiting a country that holds contests for swamp football and sauna-bathing? sound weird? i'll explain.

thanks to the visitor information everywhere, i learned that finland is not only famous for brilliant design, but also for their love of saunas (there are 1.8 million of them!), and a strange passtime of diving into frozen lakes and beating themselves with birch branches between sauna sessions. finland is also home to some 230,000 reindeer!! and, like many countries, they claim to be home to the one true santa clause. they are also responsible for the invention of text messaging, and finland is the homeland of Nokia.

the fins have also developed some of the strangest contests i have ever heard of. speaking of cell phones, the next World Championships of Mobile Phone-throwing will be this august. "Contestants may be relieved to learn that "there will be no doping tests. However the jury can rule out the contestant if his/her mental or physical preparedness is not adequate for full a performance." Weird.

other random contests include wife-carrying and topless winter jogging.

wandering around the city, i was a bit confused at what to think. random sports and seemingly strange passtimes? brilliant design? of course it was going to be interesting. buildings side by side seemed to be designed in completely different eras. Some of the architecture was beautiful, other buildings were strange, a few were boring, and most seemed out of place. after visiting cities like edinbrugh and stockholm, where despite the history and time that had elapsed, there still seemed to be something cohesive about the architecture, helsinki was very strange. not bad, just strange.

as a student of design, i was very excited to check out the design museum, and while there i was able to find a map to all the design showrooms and shops in the city. the fins are aware of their superior design, and are in the midst of making it part of a tourism interest within the city. i was only given a short amount of time off during the day, so i had limited time to check out anything that closed at 6 pm (which was everything). even though i was super rushed, i was still able to see hundreds of examples of great design from finland, which was very exciting and inspiring.

i also wandered through a beautiful park on a sunny afternoon. i could hear music pounding as i rounded a corner on a path, and i was astonished to find about a hundred people doing leg lifts in the middle of the park. apparently outdoor aerobics in the park is a big thing. they drag out huge speakers so the exercisers have a beat to move to, while a fit women in a leotard instructs and encourages them.

if the idea of excerising in a group in the park doesn't sound strange to you, how about walking with the aid of ski poles? it seems to be a big thing in finland. more than once i saw an elderly person speed walking using ski poles. sadly, i also saw one elderly man rollerblading on grass also using ski poles (bizarre). even sadder, i wasn't able to get my camera out in time to take a picture!


From Stormy on Jan 21st, 2016

This artilce keeps it real, no doubt.