Töölö was a cool place to grow up. The concrete courtyards were great for all kinds of games, and we would head to the Hietaniemi beach or the Rajasaari island to make little streams in the melting ice and snow in spring.
Samuli Siltanen is a professor of industrial mathematics at the University of Helsinki. His passion is to make mathematics visible to everyone, as it is found everywhere yet often out of sight.
Siltanen received an award this year for his efforts in popularising science. Samu's YouTube channel has thousands of viewers. He is also known as an energetic performer who knows how to make math exciting.
Siltanen was born in Helsinki in 1970 and spent his childhood and youth on Mechelininkatu in Töölö.
"I walk from my place to the Lapinlahti hospital premises in three minutes. It is like a very compact nature trail. There is a park, trees and a beach where I like to take photos of spiders. In the winter, I've started off skiing trips from there along the ice or to the nearby islands. A friend of mine got married at the Loop waste food restaurant there. The former hospital area of Lapinlahti has an interesting cultural history. Mental health patients were treated here. Even the national author of Finland, Aleksis Kivi, was interned in Lapinlahti. A visit there is a reminder to keep mental health topics in mind."
"I go to Pompier often. The style of the restaurant is no-frills, the food is prepared from prime ingredients and it's always tasty. The restaurant is housed in a building owned by the voluntary fire brigade, and the space has a very particular decor consisting of pennants, awards and other fire brigade memorabilia. The lunchtime queue at Pompier is ever-present."
"Built in the 19th century, the assembly hall and other minor halls have a lovely old-time charm. It is amazing that a traditional classical building disseminates the most cutting-edge information available. I organised an international conference in the main building's assembly hall. It was great fun to host. The teachers' lounge has views overlooking the Senate Square. While it was strictly forbidden, we used to often take our lunch out of the cafeteria and eat it on the square. University lectures are open to all by law, so anyone can walk in and follow the teaching in the main building."
"I was a somewhat adventurous teenager and I used to admire the old railway tunnel in the city centre. I'd walk along the tracks and pass by gloomy graffitied bridges and capture my findings on black-and-white film. I remember that my dad once told me that some boys used to jump on trains there in the 1950s, and sometimes one would fall in between the wagons to his death. This slightly daunting wasteland has now become a gorgeous public bike lane: lively, speedy, happy and available to anyone to use. It is bold that such a positive change took place there, instead of just being filled with sand. I often walk along the Baana."
"The Töölö Sports Hall – Kisahalli, or Kisis for short – has been an important venue to me my whole life. My dad is a volleyball freak and I followed him to the hall as a kid to play and fool around when he would train. In the 1980s, I went there to practice breakdance many times a week. Nobody organised it officially, we would just gather in a corner and exchange moves. When I was a student, I went to the hall for boxing. The 1951 European champion Elis Ask would train there while we messed around. I had a ponytail and he would sneer at me and tell me to become a pro and make enough cash to get a haircut. Nowadays we have a weightlifting club with my wife and a couple of friends. Sometimes when we pump iron, I can see 10-year-old cheerleaders performing handsprings in the corner of my eye. The sports hall is a bit run-down and unfurbished but it always has a great atmosphere. All kinds of sports happily coexist there, with each a corner of their own, and each with their own codes of conduct. The more experienced ones offer advice to the newbies. The feeling is very down-to-earth and democratic."
"I enjoy all the rides so I'm often an easy pick to take the kids of my friends for a day at the amusement park. The old roller coaster has a scent of tar and is a must to visit. When they closed down the Vekkula funhouse I even made a goodbye video from there. I always have a waffle with ice cream and jam. When I was a kid, there was still an attraction where a bikini-clad mermaid could be dropped into a water tank by throwing a ball. My dad was a big fan of this questionable form of entertainment."
"My favourite place in the whole world is Akihabara, Tokyo's electronics district. In Helsinki we have Verkkokauppa, a megamarket for electronics and home appliances. Our post office is there so when I stop by to get my mail, I have a tendency to make a little pitstop at the grill department. Photography is a hobby of mine and I shop for many camera supplies there and I always find what I'm after. There is also always something to find that I didn't think I would need. I use their 24/7 service if I'm in a rush to quickly get something I supposedly need. Tourists often stop for photos at the statue of a peeing boy (Tommi Toija's Bad Bad Boy)."