Urban Conservation in Helsinki: exploring wooden houses in Vallila, Käpylä & Kumpula

Throughout Finland, clusters of heritage-protected wooden houses provide a peak into early 20th century Finnish working class life. Typically built during the first three decades of the 1900s to house the city’s growing working class, these areas can be identified by the addition of puu (wood in Finnish) to the district name.

Today, most are highly sought after residential areas, often for artists, writers, and musicians. In this post I give a little insight into three main areas within Helsinki which can be reached by tram or walking from the center.

 

Puu-Käpylä

Most of the wooden houses in this area were built in the 1920s, with the communal style courtyard gardens designed by Martti Välikangas famous as the first example of the Garden City Movement. While there is some variety in housing colour, most are a striking red ochre. This suburb can be reached by tram 1 or a 70 minute walk from the central railway station.28584488_10160201099170145_1839635781_o28643218_10160201098840145_243762720_o28695074_10160201101085145_2054141958_o

Puu-Vallila

An older and more dense area can be found in Vallila. Renovated in the 1980s the area has several beautiful tree lined streets and a park nestled under a rocky hill- a favourite spot for sunbathing in summer. The local pub Pikku Vallila is a charming place to stop for a drink and in summer there’s a popular flea market on Aleksis Kiven Katu every Sunday. Tram 1 will take you to Vallila, or it’s a 40 minute walk from the central railway station.

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Puu-Kumpula

My favourite street in all of Helsinki is located in this suburb. With rows of variously coloured old wooden houses, star lights in the streets at night and huge sunflowers by the side of the road in summer, it’s hard not to love Limingantie. There’s also a large allotment garden, built in 1927 and tree lined bike and walking paths through Kumpulanlaakso City Park. A popular outdoor public swimming pool built for Olympic training in the 1950’s is open during summer and in winter the area an ice rink. You can reach Kumpula by tram 8 or 6 or by an hour walk from the central railway station.

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