Central and West Pasila

Pasila railway station

Ever since I moved to West Pasila, I felt like I had discovered the best-kept secret of central Helsinki. I can find almost anything nearby and the great connections take me to the downtown bustle in a matter of minutes. The peaceful nature of the Central Park, the heart of Helsinki, is even closer. Calm West Pasila makes it easy for anyone to put down roots.

Sebastian Sihvola
Part-time traveller
Sebastian Sihvola

According to current projections, Pasila will grow to become Helsinki’s second centre. This was the plan already in the past: the architect Eliel Saarinen envisioned Pasila as a continuation of the downtown zone already in 1918.

The new Central Pasila is built on top of and around the Pasila station. The first feature to open its doors was the urban centre Tripla, a crossover complex hosting a shopping centre, hotel, multi-use arena, public transportation hub, music museum and housing. Tripla has been designed by the Dutch design office Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), Helsinki's Soini & Horto Architects, and the construction company YIT.

Starting the new phase of Pasila at the train station is logical in terms of the area’s history. The train station in Pasila dates back to 1891. The name Pasila comes from the merchant Karl Pasila, a long-term tenant of the local Fredriksberg estate. The Swedish name Böle was originally the name of the adjacent estate.   

The oldest buildings in Pasila were housing blocks for workers – among them the Toralinna, which housed workers of the national railway company VR (Valtion rautatiet). Visitors to the area included certain V.I. Lenin, who stopped by to visit an engine driver and a wrestler who lived here. Wooden houses near the brick quarters are a remnant of the old Wooden Pasila, which was almost completely demolished in the 1970s and 80s. 

The current West Pasila was built in the 1980s. The building plans were made by Reijo Jallinoja, the architect who was also in charge of designing East Pasila. The briefing requested a softer outlook with lower buildings. This was achieved with red brick facades and curved streets. An expressive apartment house complex designed by Juha Leiviskä is also located in the area.

The landmark of the Ilmala district directly north of West Pasila is the transmission tower of Yle, the Finnish national broadcaster. The tower rises to a height of 146 metres and is visible all over the city and beyond. Near the media studios, another local key attraction is the Hartwall Arena, a multi-function indoor venue for ice hockey, concerts and more.

Helsinki's Central Park borders West Pasila and offers a refuge from the busy city life with community gardens, outdoor exercise spots and picture-perfect walking paths that take you all the way to downtown Helsinki and the border of Vantaa at the opposite end.       

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The new Central Pasila is built on top of and around the Pasila station. The current West Pasila was built in the 1980s.