Architectural gems at Torikorttelit
Helsinki's Torikorttelit includes several spellbinding architectural sites that offer a breath of historic air.
The Torikorttelit blocks also feature modern architecture that bring an interesting balance to the refined and exquisite Neoclassicist buildings of the area. A stroll through the artisanal boutiques or sitting down at one of the local cafes are fine ways to get acquainted with the area’s architectural beauty.
Engel’s historical Senate Square
The historic heart of the city, the Senate Square at the footsteps of the Helsinki Cathedral, has a festive ambiance and is steeped in many centuries of history. In addition to the glowing white Cathedral – Helsinki’s most recognisable monument – the square is lined by the main building of the University of Helsinki, and the Government Palace. The city’s Neoclassical touch is the work of the famed architect Carl Ludvig Engel, whose list of achievements includes a dazzling array of buildings. The steps of the Helsinki Cathedral are a wonderful place to stop and take in the surrounding beautiful and historical city blocks.
Carl Ludvig Engel also designed the renovation of the Bock House, which was originally built in the 1760s and still stands on the Senate Square with its glowing yellow facade and Ionic columns. In addition to the City of Helsinki’s Executive Office, the house now also hosts OMA Puoti, a boutique specialised in modern Finnish handicrafts and traditional design.
The Kiseleff House is found at Aleksanterinkatu 27. Its current form is the design of Engel but the house was originally built in the early 18th century. The Stockmann department store was first located in the Kiseleff House. The young merchant G.F. Stockmann managed a store on the premises and later acquired the whole building. The Stockmann store was situated here until the 1930s. Nowadays, the Kiseleff House is home to various handicraft and design shops, including Au3 Goldsmiths and Kauniste.
The maritime Market Square is lined with pastel-hued buildings
Looking inland from the sea, Helsinki’s busy Market Square sits in front of a row of enchanting buildings that make up the Torikorttelit blocks. The City Hall, a blue building also located on the square, was designed by the father of the Senate Square, Carl Ludvig Engel.
Beside the City Hall is the building housing the Embassy of Sweden, which was designed by Anders Fredrik Granstedt. Several renovation rounds have been completed over the years, yet the compounds still evoke the feeling of times gone by. The right-hand side of the building houses Garden by Olo, the cozy courtyard “back pocket” of the famed restaurant Olo, as well as the atmospheric speakeasy-style bar Trillby & Chadwick, which serves delicious cocktails.
A cup of coffee at Lars Sonck’s art nouveau masterpiece
A true architectural highlight within the Torikorttelit blocks can be found at Pohjoisesplanadi 19, where Lars Sonck, one of the most notable designers of the city’s national romantic movement, designed the renovation process. The space now houses Robert’s Coffee, a relaxing stop for tasty coffee, pastries and gelato in a magnificent environment.
Lars Sonck’s work can also be admired at the Kiseleff House right at the Senate Square. Sonck was in charge of the house’s interior extension.
Aarno Ruusuvuori brought modernism to Torikorttelit
Aarno Ruusuvuori was a modernist well known for his architecturally reduced concrete buildings. One of his more long-spanning projects was the renovation of the City of Hall, along with the whole surrounding block, in 1970-1988. His particular style can be admired at, for instance, the terrace of City Hall’s restaurant, Chapter, or the cozy Torikorttelit central park.
The Torikorttelit visitors guide includes more tips for architecture fans. The map can be picked up free of charge at the City of Helsinki’s tourism information office at the central railway station, and around Torikorttelit.