Nordicum - Real Estate Annual Finland 2014 - Page 17

THE ANGLE By Hannu Penttilä The writer is Deputy Mayor of the City of Helsinki Culture Boosts Helsinki to New Heights A Photo: City of Helsinki Media Bank / Pertti Nisonen The appeal of cities is based on their role as meeting places. In the city, different ideas and thoughts emerge, spearheading creativity. The city fascinates us especially due to its unique urban culture which can not be copied. Culture has surpassed the significance of raw materials in the growth of the cities, as the evolution of competitive factors has meant a transition from simply manufacturing goods to knowledge-intensive industries. ny city should have a soul of its own. This, however, does not happen overnight; a city is a tour de force of generations and centuries. Travellers turn to a new city looking for its true substance, the story which belongs to that city alone. As the various identities of metropolises clash, cities hoping to add new production and population should have their own message out there. Urban culture does not blossom on anyone’s say-so. Urban culture grows from democracy and local creativity. Models plagiarised from somewhere – or force-fed from above – have a habit of producing failed phantom towns. Urban culture is, first and foremost, culture for the every-day: a quick stop at a café in the morning, the feeling of spring in the city, a moment of triumph on a sports field or a memorable glance during rush hour. Human-scale city planning gives us opportunities to participate in the making of this every-day culture. It also allows us the choice to assume the role of the outsider, should we so desire. The significance of cities as enablers of urban culture is great. As cities are planned, we can use subtle means to enhance the spirit of the place and usher in also new experiences. In this task, the high-quality planning and implementation of public space is crucial. Streets, squares and parks are key areas in enabling urban culture. Aiming for urban perfection will only serve to destroy the citizens’ own creative impulses; it makes sense to let life – in its various guises – leave its mark on the environment. We rarely thoroughly enjoy ourselves in an environment designed by others. We, too, want to leave our fingerprint in the centuries-spanning history of the cities. Every city needs its rough edges. Strongly linked to culture, there is also the chance to experience something for the first time, something that is both dynamic and innovative. The city itself – as well as the people who live there – are the most important resources here. In addition, we need also special meeting places: libraries, theatres and museums. When they are successful, these cultural anchors offer up a brilliant manifestation of the city dwellers’ values and talents. We Finns are proud of our nation’s literary tradition and cultural legacy. We are building a central library in a high-profile downtown location, to serve as a hub of information and arts. Various new museums communicate our values through visual and conceptual arts. We extend an invitation to all our international friends to come to Helsinki and get acquainted with this new decade of Finnish culture. Culture in Helsinki is a potent resource of a new era; like the ultimate magic machine Sampo of ancient Finnish mythology, culture has the power to spread well-being to everyone. Nordicum 15