Pihlajamäki is a so-called “forest district” of Helsinki that celebrated its 50th birthday in 2012. The rugged nature here is characterised by its rocky and forested hills with small valleys in between. The Vantaanjoki river flows along the western edge of the district. Along the river there are both forested areas and open farmland. The attractiveness of Pihlajamäki lies not only in its natural environment, but also in the tiny details of its buildings. Most of the architecture is modest and refined.

The buildings are situated naturally according to the terrain. Pihlajamäki is indeed a model suburb in terms of both is modern town planning and architectural values. It even features the first modern architectural heritage trail in Helsinki, the Pihlajamäki Architecture Path, which was financed as part of the Neighbourhood Project. A historical protection plan is being drawn up for the entire Pihlajamäki, which was developed in the 1960s. The natural parks and environment would be protected within the framework of the same plan. Pihlajamäki is home to around 7500 residents.

The green areas in Pihlajamäki can be rightly referred to these days as “retro parks”. The parks consist mainly of forests, rocks and ponds that man has respectfully and carefully modified to make them more sustainable in terms of both wear and functionality.

Local history

The “Viikin latokartano” farm was founded on land claim from local farmers in Viikki to supply grains and feed to the royal manor of King Gustav Vasa of Sweden, the founder of Helsinki. The royal manor was subsequently destroyed by the Russians in 1571. In the 1600s and 1700s, Viikin latokartano served as the governor’s official residence. In the 1910s the small settlement of Viikinmäki was established on the manor’s land by the Vantaanjoki river.

Viikki became part of Helsinki in 1946 along with Pihlajamäki and Pihlajisto. Pihlajamäki was designed and developed primarily between 1959 and 1965 as one of the first mass production housing areas in Finland. The town plan was drawn up in 1960 by architect Olli Kivinen. To ensure political fairness, the construction of Pihlajamäki was divided between two developer organisations. The Helsinki Housing Co-operative (Helsingin Asuntokeskuskunta Haka) was assigned the construction of the area’s northeastern section under the architects Esko Korhonen and Sulo Savolainen, while Social Housing Production (Sosiaalinen asuntotuotanto Oy Sato) was responsible for the area’s southwestern part under the architect Lauri Silvennoinen. Further information about these architects is available on the Pihlajamäki Architecture Path website.

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