Late last year Brigitte and I took a walk from our apartment up to Arabiaranta, a rapidly (re-)developing suburb sandwiched between the the “original” Helsinki (Vanhankaupunki) and the city centre (what I would consider “old” Helsinki). The weather was a bit chilly, but it was great to be out exploring this really interesting part of the city.
Arabiaranta (meaning “Arabian coast”) borders on the Vanhankaupunginlahti (opposite the bay from the Viikki reserve) and was an industrial area until redevelopment started in 2000. The area bordering on Kumpula (i.e. furthest from the sea) has lots of stand-alone houses with their own gardens, and is really beautiful. Moving closer the to sea, you enter a maze of new apartment blocks, retail spaces, and old industrial buildings – a big contrast to the much older houses only a few hundred meters away. The “new” part of Arabiaranta is just as interesting as the old section – glimpses of unusual architecture and clever design are all around. And only a few steps further and you’re walking in a lovely green belt separating the apartments from the bay… I think those who have apartments that look out onto the bay and across to Viikki can consider themselves very fortunate to have such a lovely view!
Arabiaranta apparently (according to Wikipedia) derives its name from the famous Finnish ceramics company (Arabia – check out their excellent website), which still has a large store in the suburb’s design mall.
The newly developed apartment blocks in Arabiaranta look very nice, and despite their close proximity, it feels like there is a comfortable amount of space between all the buildings. One of the coolest things about these new developments is that all the construction projects have had to allocate a percentage of their budget (1 – 2%) to purchasing art – so between the buildings there are all sorts of interesting sculptures and installations. You can find a beautiful brochure (“Walking in Arabiaranta”) that lists and illustrates some of these artworks here. And of course there are also the city art museum’s outdoor pieces too (click on the red dots on this page for more information and photographs – look in the Toukola area on the left).
There’s still much for us to see in Arabiaranta (for example, the sleeping lions!) and I look forward to visiting there again soon.