Gasverk is a proposal for a new public building and concert hall in central Helsinki. The building is designed to be modifiable and used as a developing platform rather than a static object or representation in the city. It can be used to organise events and a space which can cater for 3000 person events.
Loh Li Zhi
Iron curtains are to be hung from the top of the building to create a soundscape and a public interface which is always on the move. This act will combine some of the original features of the dark carbon fuelled past of the power plant area of Suvilahti and the ideals of these marginalised but important musical genres.
Spiralling external staircases go around the perimeter of the building to provide a public access to the roof of the building, acting as a viewing platform when not in use by an event. Spaces inside are left as raw as possible, removing every unnecessary detail of a standard Finnish modern building. By the act of removal, surface coatings, paints and trims, the construction becomes cheaper, quicker and longer lasting. These values are something that desperately need more support from the city. Not only to create the indestructible spaces to match the realism of heavy drinking and heavy metal crowds but because the model could be used to create a more sustainable and “humanised” spaces that can be modified and developed over time. Designing the city too complete and too hygienic, makes it more and more distant from the real people who use it plus also impossible or illegal to drill a hole to the wall when you need to.
The proposed art facilities will house three venues. A Main venue with a capacity of 3000 people, a roof terrace venue with a capacity of approximately 900 people and another ground floor event space with a capacity of 900 people.
The proposal will push the cultural activities from the central peninsula of Helsinki towards the new housing areas of Kalasatama and Arabia in the city fringe. The proposal does not only intend to revitalise these areas but to also bridge the more central part of Helsinki: the youthful part of Kallio to these newly built areas.
The architectural proposal takes into full consideration the original scheme for the area by Lindqvist and Castren from the early 1900s. Intervention to the existing gasometer is done in line with the original design intent with respect to the existing structure, materials, form and volume. The architect has been highly influenced by continental architecture and similar structures found all around big European cities. In Vienna, one of Lindqvist original influences, most of the gasometers have been re-used, modified and refurbished to serve the changing needs of the city, creating special interest and heterotopic continuity to the ever modernising city.
The Existing Gasometers in Suvilahti have been disused and are in bad repair. The power station activity was moved elsewhere in 1994 leaving most of the buildings on site out of use for many years. In 2007 it was decided that the Suvilahti area would be used for various cultural activities, having led to the current occupation of the old power station buildings by different cultural communities. The gasometers on the contrary have been empty since. These structures would benefit from being reused as in their current state they will slowly deteriorate. The city of Helsinki undertook repair and demolition works for the larger gasometer in 2010 because of severe damages to the structure affected by heavy snowfall. The majority of the original buildings of the power station have been demolished in the 1940s and 50s.
Proposed Site and Landscape
It is proposed that the area would be connected to Panimotie with a pedestrian underpass so that the building could be accessed from all directions. Vehicular access would be from the area next to Kattilahalli and loading would happen also from the west side of the building. It is proposed that the landscape around the building should be resurfaced. It is concidered that it should be kept open also in the future to allow festivals and other events take place. To make it friendlier to use also in between the events, more green areas should be added.