Dianapuisto Kiinteistö on Erottajankatu 7 is one of the most centrally located commercial properties in Helsinki. The street level of the building, once home to a bank, will continue the tradition of a grocery shop in this address, now that a new K-Market opened in the premises this May.
Dianapuisto Kiinteistö Oy is located across the street from the triangular Kolmikulmapuisto park, surrounded by handsome Neo-Renaissance buildings. As one of the most central locations in the city, the site has been known as a banking and media sector hub. Now there are several design companies and restaurants. Erottajankatu 7 is part of Design District Helsinki, which is home to a large number of design and antique shops, galleries, museums and design agencies.
This traditional commercial building in Helsinki’s Kaartinkaupunki neighbourhood was completed at Erottajankatu 7 in 1910. Designed by Valter Thomé, the building was erected where a two-storey wood building had stood before it. The building’s predecessor housed businesses such as Restaurant Biljard and the grocery store Hemmi, which sold imported fruit that were exotic and expensive for their time.
Erottajankatu 7 has been both a residential building and a branch of the Union Bank of Finland. The current tenants at this central location include the media company Mediaplanet Finland and the embassies of Ireland and South Korea.
Under the protection of the God of the Forest
The Dianapuisto property is located in the culturally and historically significant Miekkakala quarter. It is bordered to the north by Ludviginkatu, which has been a hub of the Finnish publishing industry since the start of the 1900s. Päivälehti, the predecessor of the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper, was first regularly published from this location in 1890. The editorial offices of Helsingin Sanomat and Ilta-Sanomat were located here at the premises of Sanoma Corporation until the media group moved to the new Sanomatalo Building in 1999.
Kolmikulmapuisto park is also known as Dianapuisto park. The triangular park is bordered by Yrjönkatu, Uudenmaankatu and Erottajankatu. The name Dianapuisto park is a reference to a statue created by the sculptor Yrjö Liipola depicting Tellervo, the daughter of Tapio, the ancient Finnish God of the Forest. The statue was completed and located in Kolmikulmapuisto park in 1928. The name Diana comes from Roman mythology, in which Diana was the Goddess of the Hunt.
A new home base for the younger theatre audience
The property at Erottajankatu 7 has also been frequented by theatre lovers. In the 1980s, an annex was built in the inner courtyard of the Dianapuisto property, which became the home of the Swedish-language theatres Klockriketeatern and Unga Teatern in the 1990s.
The Diana Stage, previously also known as Pikku-Lillan, will attract even younger theatregoers from the beginning of next year when Unga Teatern moves out and the Puppet Theatre Sampo moves in.
At the end of May, Erottajankatu 7 will also see the return of the grocery trade with the new K-market Erottaja. The shop has an active presence on social media, such as Twitter and Facebook.
“Our shop combines trendy products with the traditional services of the local grocery store,” says shopkeeper Laura Huurtola.
An Ostrobothnian tour de force
The five-storey Dianapuisto building, which represents the late Jugend era, was designed by the architectural agency Valter Thomé & Bröderna Udd. Born in Pudasjärvi in Northern Ostrobothnia, Thomé was a Finnish architect who graduated from the Helsinki Polytechnic Institute in 1898. Before opening his own architectural practice, he worked for several nationally renowned architectural offices including those of Lars Sonck, Grahn-Hedman-Wasastjerna and Onni Törnqvist.
In the early 1900s, Thomé was one of Finland’s most productive and sought-after architects. His career was sadly cut short in 1918 when he was killed in the Finnish Civil War. Fighting for the Whites, he was part of an eight-man squad and was executed in Vihti. Also part of the squad and losing their lives were his brothers Ivar and William. His brother Ivar was also an architect, while William was the founder and director of the Thomesto timber company.
During his career, Thomé designed several private homes, public buildings, commercial buildings and residential buildings, as well as entire industrial districts and city plans in different parts of Finland. One of his specialties was designing banks, but he is also remembered for the Polytechnic Students’ Union building on Lönnrotinkatu, also known as Old Poly, and the Jugend-style office building of the publishing company Otava on Uudenmaankatu, not far from Dianapuisto park.
A unique atrium
Dianapuisto Kiinteistö Oy was acquired by Sponda in 1991 from Suomen Kiinteistöpankki Oy, which was a subsidiary of SKOP, or Säästöpankkien Keskus-Osake-Pankki, until the Finnish banking crisis of the early 1990s.
“This eight-storey building is well suited for various types of tenants,” says Markus Mikkola, Account Manager at Sponda.
One of the unique features of the property is its bright multi-level glass atrium that extends to the street level where K-market Erottaja opened its doors. As recently as in 2014, the same premises were used as a showroom and retail space by Design Forum Finland.
Kaija Ollila & Kirsti Toppari:
Puhvelista Punatulkkuun – Helsingin vanhoja kortteleita (From Puhveli to Punatulkku – The Old Quarters of Helsinki)
Arkkitehti Valter Thomé – harmoniaa etsimässä (Architect Valter Thomé – In Search of Harmony)
Text: Nina Garlo-Melkas