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Helsinki - Gare centrale © Marc Goodwin

26 August 2021 Comments (0) Architecture, Mobility, Other, Real Estate

Helsinki’s legendary train station: a crucial hub of transformed urban mobility

A masterpiece of Finnish architecture, Helsinki Central Station opens up to a design hotel. The building has been rated as one of the most beautiful train stations in the world and is one of the most visited architectural destinations in Finland.

Helsinki Central Station and its adjoining buildings were completed in 1919 and are among Eliel Saarinen’s most important achievements in Finland. The Scandic Grand Central Helsinki has taken up residence as part of an extension that respects the original building with Art Nouveau accents. The hotel is located in the old administrative buildings of the station. With its 500 rooms and meeting and banquet facilities, it is one of the largest hotels in Finland.

The Futudesign studio has added a contemporary wing to the original building, interpreting Saarinen’s architecture boldly and respectfully at the same time. The idea was to create modern architecture that makes both old and new elements interesting.

  • Helsinki - Gare centrale © Iikka Airas
    Helsinki - Gare centrale © Iikka Airas
  • Helsinki - Gare centrale © Marc Goodwin
    Helsinki - Gare centrale © Marc Goodwin
  • Helsinki - Gare centrale © Marc Goodwin
    Helsinki - Gare centrale © Marc Goodwin

Faithful and original at the same time

The concept of the Finnish agency Futudesign remains faithful to the original architecture of the station and blurs the boundaries between historical and contemporary architecture to create a stylistic symbiosis. Many design details are inspired by the original plans by Eliel Saarinen. They have been applied to contemporary elements such as the arched windows on the street level and the top floor. The wall materials mimic the facade of the railway station with a mix of concrete and red granite to add to the elegant look of the building.

It’s funny to know that this reinterpretation of the station (by making it even more urban and mixed) would probably not have displeased the architect who, already in 1918, had proposed to the city a plan for the redeployment of the centre of Helsinki by moving the railway station two kilometres to the north in order to support “the growth of Helsinki on a European scale and to make it a metropolis with large boulevards and monumental buildings”. This plan, however, never saw the light of day.

In the cities of today and tomorrow, two of the crucial elements will be the proximity of public transport and the rehabilitation of old buildings to adapt them to modern needs. The Scandic Grand Central perfectly illustrates these two contemporary trends.

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