Is Lapinlahti for everyone or is it a pawn of an investment fund?
The City of Helsinki Urban Environment Division contacted the Lapinlahti community and wanted to learn about its activities. We welcomed with open arms a delegation that, to our surprise, included representatives of the international real estate investment company NREP (Nordic Real Estate Partners) and two Danish consultants. We presented Lapinlahti’s diverse activities from a people-oriented perspective and underlined its importance as a cultural and historical landmark and as a place to relax in the heart of the bustling capital.
We started with the operation of Café Lähde and talked about its great employment impact, the number of customers and the enriching effect of its events on visitor numbers each year. In the Corridor Gallery, artists Jennifer Ramirez and Paula Talvikki talked about their own path to employment through Lapinlahti’s channels. They stressed the importance of inclusion and success as motivating factors, as well as an accepting atmosphere. We also heard about support person activities in Lapinlahti.
We moved on to the Identity exhibition in Osasto5, where we talked about the wide range of therapist and wellbeing services offered by the Lapinlahti operators in rented rooms. We emphasised that it is easy for all kinds of people to come and be as they are: you can meet others, admire art, have a coffee, wander by yourself, without any pressure. The house offers a full range of services, including a places to relax and recover.
We visited the reception room of psychotherapist and author Satu Pihlaja, where she stressed the importance of the place as a place where you feel comfortable without a cash register rattling every minute. With reasonable rents, it is possible to provide a high level of psychological counselling without insurmountable costs for those in need.
The tour continued to the Cooperative Tilajakamo, where we explained the principle of Gallery Kuja and presented the Crystal Ball exhibition. We also took a peek at the newly opened on-demand restaurant Mental Hospitality, which features an exhibition of photographs of abandoned mental hospitals in Europe by Hungarian-French artist Timea Jankovics.
We continued behind the closed doors of Tilajakamo, where there are workspaces for musicians, writers, media workers and visual artists, among others. We visited the world of visual journalism in Klaus Welp’s studio and continued to the Book Garden at the end of the building. There, publisher Aku Vainikainen talked about the sales of audio books. This year, the Book Garden will produce 400 audio books for their publisher customers: the new premises have five recording studios and every day the house is visited by renowned writers, actors and professionals of phonetics to make audiobooks. They also use the house’s services, from yoga classes to a lunch café and wellness facilities.
From Book Garden, we moved on to Venetsia-talo and its activities. Maija Mustajoki, who works in the Miitti project, presented the project’s activities, which e.g. aim to facilitate the integration of immigrants into Finnish society. Miitti organises several events and workshops in Lapinlahti every year. We also visited the atmospheric Blue Room in Venetsia-talo. The tour ended at Lähteen Sauna, one of the oldest public saunas in Helsinki.
Many thanks to the representatives of NREP and the City of Helsinki for the visit and the fruitful discussions. The next discussion on the ownership of Lapinlahti will take place in January 2023. Please see the statement on the future of Lapinlahti published by the Lapinlahti community In this link