After a two-and-a-half hour flight from London Heathrow, I arrived in Helsinki just before midnight, in time to see the sunset from the air. After all, it is summer in the Nordic countries. A short 25-minute bus ride later, I arrived at the Helsinki Central Station and walked straight to my hotel, the Hotel Rivoli Jardin. This is a family-run hotel in the heart of Helsinki. The room was very comfortable.

Hotel Rivoli Jardin Helsinki

Day 1: World Design Capital, Museums and Aimless City Walks

The next morning I headed for the Pavilion, which is the center of events for the World Design Capital 2012 Helsinki. The Pavilion, designed at Aalto University’s Wood Program, is a showcase of Finnish sustainable wood architecture.

Pavilion Signage

Pavilion Building

Below is a time lapse video on the construction of the structure.

The Pavilion itself is very open, with a theatre area for talks. A list of daily events is posted outside.

Pavilion Events

Pavilion Interior

Since I woke up late and missed the free hotel breakfast, I ended up ordering some fried herring with a cappuccino to get me started for the day.

Pavilion Lunch

Since the Pavilion was in between the Designmuseo and the Museum of Finnish Architecture, I decided to visit them first. The Finnish design exhibition “Finnish Form” at the Designmuseo was fascinating, showcasing Finnish design history from the 19th century to today. Who knew these Fiskars scissors I use today were of Finnish design?

Helsinki Cathedral

I then took a little detour and walked to the Helsinki Cathedral, then onto the Aleksanterinkatu, which is a main shopping street in the city, and around to the Central Railway Station.

Aleksanterinkatu

Helsinki Central Railway Station

My main destination is actually the Kampin Kapelli, which is also known as the Chapel of Silence, an example of timber architecture built via sustainable construction materials and methods as part of the World Design Capital 2012 program.

Kampin Kapelli Chapel of Silence

Kampin Kapelli Chapel of Silence

Kampin Kapelli Chapel of Silence

I then headed across the busy street to the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art. I first visited this museum over ten years ago, but the museum is just as modern today as it was then.

Kiasma Outside

Kiasma Interior

There was a Finnish comic exhibition going on, and this was one of the displays with comic strips below the huge mural.

Kiasma Comic Exhibition

There were also installations throughout the museum. This particular one was for the Occupy Movement.

Kiasma Installations

I thought this one was just a nice photo with the lighting…

Kiasma Installations

Well, there’s more. I figured since it wasn’t raining, I’d go visit the Rock Church (Temppeliaukion kirkko), which is a church built from the granite rock that is on site. The copper top design also brings in natural lighting into the church, which is a wonderful sight when inside the church.

Rock Church Helsinki

Rock Church Helsinki

Rock Church Helsinki

I continued to stay within the center of the city, walking to the back of the Kiasma (check out the building!), then to the newly opened Helsinki Music Center (Musikkittalo), which was unveiled last year at a cost of 189 million Euros. I wanted to check out a performance but unfortunately there was nothing on the calendar. Maybe next time.

Kiasma Back

Musikkitalo

Musikkitalo Interior

Definitely a lot for one day, don’t you think?

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