Suvilahti – From an energy plant to a cultural center
Suvilahti is a unique post-industrial milieu located at the heart of Helsinki. The area was initially built between 1908 and 1910 and was used to provide energy and heat for the city almost until the 1970s. For more than 15 years now, Suvilahti has been a home to a wide range of cultural actors and a venue for major public events and festivals. The former power and gas plant encompasses nine buildings. Some of them have been renovated and repaired according to the needs of their operators, while others are still waiting for repairs. Suvilahti’s tenants range from photographers to a brewery bar and from venues for gigs to circus schools.
Suvilahti also has two large steel and brick gasometers, probably the most widely known local landmarks. The cleaning and refurbishment of these gasometers began in 2016. The first phase was completed when the basic renovation of the smaller gas clock was finished in 2022. The next step is the repair of the steel structures of the bigger gasometer. The gasometers have already been used temporarily for events. After the refurbishment projects, the gasometers can be transformed into more permanent cultural venues. Suvilahti, as an architectural ensemble, is a nationally significant cultural environment and is preserved and protected for future development. Suvilahti is administered by the property management company KAAPELI owned by the city of Helsinki.
Dr Kai Huotari (b. 1972) has 20 years of management experience in culture, academia and technology. Since 2015, Dr Huotari has worked as Managing Director at KAAPELI, the largest cultural centre in Finland. He has held managerial positions also at EIT Digital, at Helsinki Institute for Information Technology HIIT, and DocPoint – Helsinki Documentary Film Festival. From 2010 to 2012, Dr Huotari worked as visiting scholar at the UC Berkeley School of Information. He is the chairman of the board of HAM Helsinki Art Museum Foundation and the board of Kunsthalle Helsinki. He has a doctoral degree in economics and business administration, an M.A. degree in filmmaking, and an MSc in computer science.
Jouni Kärki (b.1979) has almost 20 years of experience in the creative industry. He has worked at KAAPELI since 2015, responsible for selling event venues at Kaapelitehdas and Suvilahti cultural centres. Recently, Kärki started as Head of Property at the Suvilahti cultural centre. From 2006 to 2015, Kärki worked for a small municipality, Kauniainen, where he was in charge of the municipality's cultural services, the operation of a music concert hall chamber, special cultural services for the elderly and children, and the local history and building heritage. Kärki has a Bachelor's degree in cultural management and real estate property management.