Helsinki City Council rejects Katajanokka hotel project at heated meeting
On Wednesday, the Helsinki City Council had just one item on the agenda: whether or not a new hotel should be erected on a prominent site in Helsinki’s Katajanokka district.
After a prolonged debate, the project was rejected with 38 votes for and 47 against the plan.
”Nevertheless, we had a good debate”, said Risto Rautava (National Coalition Party), the chairman of the City Board, who had been speaking in support of the planned hotel with all his might.
The cruciform Waterfront Hotel designed by the Swiss architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron was to be financed by a Norwegian investor. The project prompted a lively public debate, which was mentioned repeatedly by several members of the City Council.
”At least I have received plenty of positive feedback concerning the project”, noted Mari Puoskari, the chair of the Council group of the Green League. She stressed that the city centre cannot be brightened by mummifying the area, saying that it is sad that the good venture has been labelled as political manoeuvring.
Kimmo Helistö (Green League) warned the others of making decisions based on emotion. He asked the councillors what they would like to place on the site instead.
Helistö spoke strongly on behalf of the hotel, saying that the place is unquestionably appropriate for a building, as there is nothing on the site that anybody would miss later.
The most active to take the floor in favour of the hotel project were the members of the National Coalition Party.
”I am in favour of the hotel building. I find it beautiful”, confessed Sirpa Asko-Seljavaara (Nat. Coalition Party). ”It is better than a sauna or a dog park”.
Olli Valtonen (Nat. Coalition Party) did not understand why the hotel project created so many contradictions.
”People cannot assume that we would today follow the architecture of buildings that are more than 100 years old, can they?” Valtonen argued.
Laura Kolbe (Centre party) disapproved of the hotel, saying that her stand was based on the negative feedback received from residents.
Kolbe and Osku Pajamäki (SDP) both criticised the actions of Pekka Korpinen (SDP), Helsinki’s Deputy Mayor for City Planning and Real Estate, in the matter. Korpinen has been a strong advocate of the new glass hotel.
Osmo Soininvaara (Green League) also opposed the planned hotel, although he admitted that he does not understand anything about design.
”In principle the City Planning Department is right, but as I said, only in principle”, Soininvaara concluded.
Previously in HS International Edition:
City official does not back down from controversial Katajanokka hotel project (15.10.2009)
Norwegian investor determined to pursue controversial hotel project in Helsinki (5.12.2008)
Helsinki City Board narrowly approves controversial hotel project in Katajanokka (23.3.2010)
Majority of decision-makers approve Helsinki’s controversial waterfront hotel project (11.12.2010)
"Wow" architecture does not fit comfortably into the Helsinki skyline (8.8.2006)