Assembling Cultural Space, Assembling the City. a Comparative Case Study of the Construction Projects of the Helsinki Music Centre, the Amos Rex Art Museum and the Helsinki Central Library.

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 18:15
Oral Presentation
Aino ALATALO, University of Tampere, Finland
Helsinki, the capital of Finland, is currently going through something of a metamorphosis as a number of new cultural buildings have risen or are under construction in the city centre. Joining the Northern European trend, Helsinki has in the recent years invested heavily on culture. A new cultural building has the potentiality to transform the city. It not only re-organizes the socio-spatial relations of a specific field of art, but also occupies urban space and creates new ways for the citizens to dwell in the city. Cultural construction projects can thus be perceived as knodal points where art and city simultaneously take shape. Drawing on the research tradition of Actor-Network Theory, this paper looks into this dual-process of the becoming of cultural and urban space in three Helsinki-based cultural construction projects: the Helsinki Music Centre (completed in 2011), the Amos Rex Art Museum and the Helsinki Central Library Oodi (both on-going). On the one hand, the projects are examples of cultural-led urban change in the city centre. On the other hand, the realization of the projects is in many ways dependent on how the projects respond to the aspirations of the city of Helsinki. Besides creating new conditions for art and culture these projects act as development tools for the city and are thought to carry out the goals of the city’s urban development strategies. The projects hereby attach to them a rich bundle of objectives that blend together and become the ingredients of new cultural and urban space. Against this background, building on a data set of expert interviews, documents and media articles, the paper examines what kind of cultural space and what kind of city do these aspirations assemble and how are these processes connected.