This old time business is never good for disco. I like sentences like that. I really do. They don’t make sense, but they do – they make sense, but they don’t. To me, these really are the best kind of sentences. This could explain why I’ve been obsessing with the word cromulent lately. Anyhow.
In Helsinki there is architecture. Of course there is, why would someone name a band after something that isn’t there? Like Joyful Germans or Rainless November in Vancouver – these just aren’t real things. So, naturally, there is architecture in Helsinki. But you probably figured this already.
Of course, there are many, many nice individual buildings in Helsinki, but there isn’t an overwhelming beauty throughout a lot of the city. My problem may be that the city of Helsinki lacks a collective old town that you would find in so many other European capitals. In any case the number of trams running around at any given time more than Eurofies the place to my satisfaction.
However, two things have struck me about Helsinki architecture since I’ve gotten here. The first is that there are no tall buildings. That is to say there are no skyscrapers, and the only structures that go above ten stories are usually church steeples. This makes for a very flat skyline. While you might think, “Hey, that sounds fucking boring,” it sort of works. You see the sea a lot more. And when the sun sets there is an unobstructed canvas of orange and red and purple. It’s different.
The second thing that struck me was that most streets have apartment buildings that span the entire length of the street, and most of these apartment buildings are around 7 or 8 floors. The result of this is that anytime one looks down a residential street, there are buildings of the same height all the way down the road, with a mirror image in terms of height across the street. It is all very symmetrical and tidy. This is present throughout Helsinki.
If you look down on these streets from above (there is one 14 story building in the city centre where you can do this) the city streets look like those mazes that scientists would run a lab rat through. Both sides of the street are uniform, with harmonized walls running the entire lengths of the road.
While this does look kind of cool, I take issue with this one fact: On a day like today, chilly, with wind coming up off of the sea with a faint scrap of fury, this setup ensures that every street in Helsinki basically acts like a goddamned wind tunnel! You live by the sea?! Why would you set up your town so that every time the wind blows, it has no where to go but right down the road and into my face – everywhere I go!?
Time to invest in some scarves and a better windbreaker.
For the sake of example, this is my street, the mighty Vaasankatu. Which I believe is Finnish for Wind Tunnel Boulevard…