Heritage Alert Helsinki Govt. Palace and Quarter
ICOMOS, together with its Finnish National Committee, is issuing a Heritage Alert, to stop planned demolitions in the courtyard of the Government Palace in the heart of Helsinki’s historic center and to prevent the implementation of current design and planning proposals that do not respect its heritage values and legal protection.
An already drafted design for a sizeable extension of office space threatens its integrity as it would necessitate the demolition of part of the Palace Quarter, namely the old printing works building, and denatures the courtyard that
has until today preserved its original Empire style spatial characteristics.
The proposed extension would irretrievably disrupt this timeline, breaking the exceptional historical continuum the Palace Quarter represents by removing historical layers in its courtyard, destroying the balance of volumes and disfiguring the historical roofscape.
The Palace is a functioning administrative building belonging to the Finnish government. Much of the Government Palace has recently (June 7, 2022) been protected by regulations of the Act on the Protection of the Built Heritage, but without mentioning the former printing works building situated in the courtyard of the Palace. The final decision is pending ratification by the Ministry of Environment. Until the ratification, an old protection decision made in 1980 is still valid.
The focus of the Heritage Alert is on the inner courtyard of the Government Palace, where a former state printing works building from 1897-1904 is protected by regulations in the detail plan and is still standing, but for which the special legislation protection will be removed by ratification of the protection of the Palace and on which a development project has been prepared.
The Government Palace is an impressive neoclassical building complex with a Corinthian portico, domed interiors and monumental stairs. It was built in stages but stylistically in a unified way, mainly in the design language of St. Petersburg-inspired Empire style and Neoclassicism. The Government Palace is the country’s most important historical administrative building and part of the neoclassical ensemble of the Senate Square, which is an impressive demonstration of Engel’s design skills.
Carl Ludvig Engel was the creator of the heart and symbolic centre of the new city, the master of the contemporary urban planning and architecture, and the most important developer in construction technology. He took upon the major task of designing a new Finnish capital city.
Immediate action is necessary in order to postpone the ratification of the amendment of the protection decision that is currently being prepared by the Ministry of Environment.
Read our press release
Photo Credits: Margaretha Ehrström / Helsinki City Museum
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