My home neighbourhood is characterised by the clatter and rattle of the dockyards and the steady flow of flaneurs on the shoreline boulevard. Landmarks here include the harbour cranes, the tall chimney of the heating central, and the Harmaja Lighthouse flickering over the sea. Passenger ships disappear into the horizon and re-appear out of nowhere. Besides the endless wind, local curiosities include the many shapes and sizes of canine residents, which are an inseparable part of life in the local parks and cafés. When summer hits the city, you can find me and our puppy on the terrace staring at the open sea and saying hi to neighbours.
Hernesaari is located in the southernmost part of the downtown area. Built on top of land reclaimed from the sea, the area has been a main hub for the shipping industry as well as functioning as the breakwater protecting the West Harbour. The area is being developed to provide office space for 3,000 workers and homes for 7,000 residents by 2030. A seaside promenade is also planned.
The history of Hernesaari is intertwined with the Hietalahti dockyard. The industrial zone has been used to build ships, as well as steam engines, icebreakers, and the first gas turbine passenger ship in the world. The dockyard is still in use although it is less busy these days.
In the future, Hernesaari will become a recreational area for citizens with a six-hectare seaside park and a seaside promenade. The construction of the new area will take several years. The nearly one-kilometre-long construction site barrier will be decorated by artists. The Construction Site Art Barrier will be the first sight to greet many of the 400,000 ferry passengers arriving in Helsinki. The quay on the western side of the area accommodates two cruise ships and a new wharf is due to be completed in 2018, where large, even 300-metre long cruise ships can dock.
The current landmark of the area is the park named after Saint Bridget of Sweden, Pyhän Birgitan puisto, with views of the open sea. The shoreline route invites visitors to admire the waves or to jump in for a dip. The lawn is suitable for all kinds of games and playful activities, as well as sunbathing. The area has nice cozy spaces for relaxing, such as the public sauna Löyly and Café Birgitta which is open during summertime.