Kalasatama Temporary: Helsinki United

By: Tara P Panthi

Kalasatama Temporary came to existence in 2010 when the city of Helsinki removed the harbor operations from Kalasatama. This beautiful and centrally located peninsula real estate is going to develop into a residential and business district by the year 2030. Until the constructions begin the city in collaboration with the constructors has allowed the public to use this property as a common open space, the purpose being promotion of the place for future residents. Since the inception of this temporary environment different art schools, art groups, independent artists, and varieties of other services have enriched the aesthetic of this place. Kalasatama Temporary has indeed become a platform for creativity by bringing together the citizens of Helsinki. It has fostered unity in growingly diverse community of Helsinki by letting them share their creativity, culture and consciousness.

Human being is a social animal. The capacity to relate with each other not merely at physical level but at higher level of abstract thinking, compassion and creativity is what separates us from other animals. This phenomenon is not just a capacity but also a need for us. We need the other to reflect ourselves. Existence as singularity is very bland. Relationships give meaning to our existence; they make our life colorful, tasteful and musical. As the Caribbean American poet Audre Lorde says, “The sharing of joy, whether physical, emotional, psychic, or intellectual, forms a bridge between the sharers which can be the basis for understanding much of what is not shared between them, and lessens the threat of their difference”. Whether we are a graffiti artist painting our feelings on the containers at Kalasatama or we are a magician showing our tricks there or we are merely an observer enjoying the place we are consciously or unconsciously sharing our being with others. Kalasatama provides a platform to fulfill the need for appreciation of our being which keeps us together as human being.

As the cities keep growing their real estate is ever shrinking because of which there is less and less open space available for the citizen. In the cities such as Tokyo where it is extremely difficult to find a convenient open space people find no time to relate with each other except in formal job setting. Their creativity and consciousness have succumbed to virtual reality. Interactions are mostly animated, as the result people have become more constricted, unhealthily introverted and depressed. Increased cases of suicides and psychological disorder are no more a strange news in these closed cities. Despite having physical prosperity denizens of these ‘closed cities’ are less happier than ever. The flower of individual consciousness that would otherwise bloom in openness, sharing and relationship gets suffocated in the ‘closed cities’. This suffocation makes people less happy, less human and it also distances us from the civilization that keeps us all united.

As the city of Helsinki keeps growing the places like Kalasatama, despite its evanescence, serves to remind its citizens the values of community, relationship, and sharing. It not just serves to preserve and promote creativity, art and culture but while doing so it also serves as strong binding glue that keeps all the Helsinkians together and united. Just like a seasonal flower that blooms for only few days and yet leaves powerful imprints of beauty to the surrounding, the Kalasatama Temporary phenomenon has served as a spring making the city of Helsinki more lively, united and human. The Kalasatama Temporary experiment deserves to be replicated not just in Helsinki but in all developing and developed cities around the world.