Definitions

city center

City-Center

The City-Center is a famous office and shopping centre building located in the centre of Helsinki, Finland, right across the street from the Helsinki Central railway station. The building was constructed in 1967 and was designed by the Finnish architects Viljo Revell and Heikki Castrén. The original plans of Revell covers the entire block surrounded by the streets of Kaivokatu, Keskuskatu and Aleksanterinkatu, but only one part of it completed. The fulfillment of these plans would have required the demolition of several old buildings that are today considered to be a vital part of Helsinki's heritage.

In Finland, the building is popularly known as Makkaratalo (Finnish for "sausage house"). The reason for this name is the decorative railing encircling the elevated parking lot occupying the third floor of the building, which is said to resemble a sausage. The first occurrence of the name was in a caricature drawn by the Finnish cartoonist Kari Suomalainen in Helsingin Sanomat. In the cartoon, a man is buying food from a snack bar near the City-Center. He points at the railing, and the snack bar vendor replies "Well, I'm just a small-time businessman.". The official name City-Center is seldom used by, and usually even unknown to, the common Helsinkian.

In 2000, the Finnish real estate company Sponda bought the City-Center and has extensively renovated it. The building is currently protected by Finland's National Board of Antiquities as part of the city's heritage. In a 2005 a decision was made to allow removing the car-ramps of the house, but not to allow removal of the "sausage", in the same decision the house was placed under protection.

The Helsingin kaupunginmuseo (Helsinki city Museum Bureau) also concluded in a written statement that:

The Makkaratalo reflects the Finnish ideology of planning of the 60's, by virtues of the era such as the belief in the modern city of Helsinki that was preparing for a wider use of cars and aiming to be a mdoern metropol. It is also a prime example of Viljo Revell's production. In the view of the Helsinkian Makkaratalo presents the perspective of every day life. It has become a vital part of the Helsinki cityscape and a part of the collective memory of the Helsinkians.

However this view can not be considered widely prominent in Helsinki. There has been several public statements about the ugliness of the building, considering its very central place. For instance the former leader of the National Board of Antiquities has stated that he considers the building an ugly error in judgement in city-planning and would not oppose its demolition.. Makkaratalo also topped a poll by Helsingin Sanomat in 2004 looking the ugliest building in Helsinki. Furthermore, it was also featured in a 2005 article-series in Helsingin Sanomat about the oddest construction plans in the era of rapid growth of the 60's.

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