Helsinki’s future, and my Cunning Plan

It appears increasingly inevitable that Helsinki will get a Guggenheim. This will indubitably cannibalize visitors from Kiasma and Ateneum.

However! In using my skills in foresight, exhibiting some Positive Thinking, I have developed a Cunning Plan: how to Turn Threats Into Opportunities. I welcome your own fine suggestions!

1. When Kiasma becomes bereft of art consumers, it could be turned into an H&M flagship store.
This in turn will divert traffic away from Forum and Aleksi, but this too is an Opportunity, as this traffic is mainly young people with no money. The empty retail footprint in Forum can house the surely-by-then-nearly-defunct Stockmann’s. The spaces along Aleksi can be turned into luxury mini-hotels for the Guggenheim visitors, who will more easily be able to Segue from their hotels to the charming little Stockmann boutique and the Louis Vuitton shop.
The current Stockmann building, in turn, can be converted into premium co-working space for the creative and high tech industries. The high rents will push micro-entrepreneurs and local creatives further into the suburbs and drafty abandoned factories, where they belong. This will provide a more stable and sustainable platform for Helsinki’s Creative Capital (i.e. Google).

2. Ateneum would make a fine home for non-local fast food chains: Starbucks on the main floor, McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut (and more!) on the top level.
The current gift shop could be a special Helsinki area, where the burgers purveyed are named after the queens of Helsinki dining and lingering, which of course will have died long ago: Elite, Lehtovaara, Savoy, Sea Horse, Kolme Kruunua, Ekberg’s.
This will obviously divert all business from the existing restaurants and bars along Mikonkatu and Kaisaniemenkatu. This too is an Opportunity, as it will help rid the city centre of those pesky local resident pedestrians – not to mention the over-supply of hairdressers, who tend to under-report their taxable earnings rather than moving it offshore to the Caymans as is normal. The summer terrace activity will move to the cruise ships, where it belongs. The resulting empty space can be converted into luxury flats for the well-heeled international student body, who will be attending the private educational institutes run by foreign corporations – institutes that will reside in the buildings formerly housing the now-extinct University of Helsinki.

In this, it is important to note that we must strike our own path! We do not wish to imitate others! Especially not southern European capitals, with their charming streets full of locally owned and operating bakers, butchers, green-grocers and flower shops – city squares full of laughing, playing children – but rather set our own standards (i.e. that of globalization). In this, we see there are no alternatives.

For happier stories, please see our book Changing Helsinki? Eleven Views on a City Unfolding (Nemo, 2015). Eds. Eeva Berglund and Cindy Kohtala, in Finnish, Swedish and English.

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