Helsinki – A learning adventure and architectural safari (written by Vicki Turner)

When the email dropped into my inbox telling me I had won a competition no-one could have been more surprised, but yes, I had!

Kindly sponsored by Metsä Wood I was also able to attend the Nordic Wood Forum held in Helsinki at the same time.  The conference focussed on promoting the use of sustainable timber as a primary structure, a internal/external finish, a source of furniture, and heat.  There were sessions that looked at promoting the production of textiles from the natural manufacture wastage, these fabrics could completely replace the petro-chemical by-products currently so popular.

I also found out about Burning Man – what an experience that would be.

After the conference ended, and re-united with the family we spent a long weekend enjoying the architectural sights and culture of Helsinki.  Helsinki is on the tip of a peninsula and on 315 islands with the inner city is located on a southern peninsula, Helsinginniemi. The city is easy to navigate on foot, tram, or metro and filled with a variety of buildings from neo-classical to iconic modernism, which is what we were most interested in.

We visited Finlandia Hall, then travelled to the end of tramline 4 to Alvar Aalto’s Studio, and his house just a short walk away.  Such wonderful light filled calm spaces, with clever planning and a real understanding of how the visual connections to land and sky scape are important to the building user.

After visits to the Kansalaistori – (great cake and coffee), and the Academic bookstore we agreed that Helsinki felt like a home from home with excellent food, helpful people, and the best tasting water.