Kamppi Chapel of Silence in the World Design Capital 2012

Kamppi Chapel of Silence opened in May-June 2012 and immediately became a Helsinki World Design Capital architectural landmark. It has become a huge tourist attraction with thousands of visitors coming to see it on a weekly basis, and the architecture has gained international following. The Chapel is designed by the K2S Architects, and is built by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. It is a collaboration of the City of Helsinki and the Church. Kamppi Chapel of Silence is a unique concept in Finland, being a first of its kind.

The Chapel was nominated for the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture Mies van der Rohe Award. Nordic Architecture and Design Magazine FORM chose it as the building of the year within Nordic countries. The architectural shape brings in mind, for some, ideas of Noah’s ark, and for others it reminds them of egg or bowl shapes. What is extraordinary about it, is the element of cutting out the sounds of the city. When you enter the space you have come into contact with silence, and you are isolated from the urban mayhem. The Chapel entrance hall is designed for encountering people, there is a service desk for the staff to meet with the community and visitors. The Church offers prayer services and communion, but it does not offer the usual congregational services like weddings and funerals. Its main focus is to be open for people and to assist the surrounding areas. The professionals in the Chapel encounter and help visitors and even meet the youth hanging out in the shopping mall area. This sometimes means dealing with usual social problems of public spaces.

The building brings in natural light during the daytime. The rest of the lighting is created to keep this natural balance. The lighting is operated by sensors, which adapt to human movement. The Chapel interior is made of alder, with common alder planks cut to shape, the benches are made of ash tree, and the exterior is made of horizontal spruce strips, which are bent at different radiuses. The exterior wood is glazed with a special wax that utilizes nanotechnology, and its frame is prepared of massive glulam beams, which were cut to shape. The exterior consists of 30 kilometers long of the material. The World Design Capital was launching a theme for innovative wood architecture, as it is more ecologically sustainable in the times of the World’s ecological crisis.

The acoustics are fantastic for musical performance, however there is no room for an organ.  It would be ideal space for baroque ensembles to perform, for instance. The most important concept of the Chapel is to be a service desk for both the locals and travelers alike. The doors are open for anybody to enter either to stop by or spend some quiet time there. The Chapel is located in the middle of the Kamppi market square, which incorporates a big shopping mall and a metro station. The area has hotels and museums nearby so it invites tourists and international visitors. Overall, the square is an ideal location for the Chapel, since it is an intersection of the cultural and the leisurely, bringing in people from all parts of the city. The Chapel itself is a small gathering place holding the most 60 people.

The City of Helsinki implemented that the World Design Capital projects come up with ideas of service design. Part of the thinking of the design is that it is embedded in the everyday life of people, and it can be more than just objects, material things and products. Design can be experiences, and it can encourage communities to create, to meet and come together, to influence and serve others. When this idea is brought together with architecture it adds another layer of the human experience. Good architecture is there to serve communities, and create meeting points in the busy city-life. The Kamppi Chapel employs professionals from the City and from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland Helsinki parish, employing twelve people.  A pastor and a deacon, a youth social worker, two ushers, and the manager are employed by the Church. The city employs two social workers, two social instructors, and two cleaning professionals.


Pastor Nanna Helaakoski


December 12, 2012, was a special day for the Kamppi Chapel. 12.12.12. was commemorated there with several weddings in the Chapel. This is an unusual occasions, so I spoke to the Chapel’s pastor Nanna Helaakoski about it.

– The December 12, 2012 was made a theme day of weddings at the Chapel. We had 16 couples to celebrate their wedding ceremonies. For some of them it was more important to get a rare chance to be married in the Chapel, than to emphasize the 12.12.12 as a special wedding day.

Websites: K2S Architects Ltd. www.k2s.fi/


WDC Helsinki 2012 wdchelsinki2012.fi/en

(Update: Mice family living in the Kamppi Chapel moved to nature. Pastor Nanna Helaakoski assisted them. The following video was published on Jan 16, 2013 by Kotimaa24:n production’s Päivikki Koskinen and Katri Saarela, 2013.)

Promoting FLICfest: Independent Choreography Kickstarter

Promoting new Choreography for FLICfest: A Festival of Independent Choreography, in Brooklyn in February 2013
Dancer-Choreographer Sari Nordman is making a new dance work for FLICfest: A Festival of Independent Choreography to be performed in Brooklyn in February, 2013. Sari holds an M.F.A. degree in modern dance from NYU/Tisch School of the Arts, and has worked with prominent choreographers in modern dance, including Douglas Dunn, Naomi Goldberg Haas, Dean Moss, Robin Rapoport, Susan Rethorst and Melinda Ring, and artist Ming Wong, among others. Sari is a recent recipient of American Scandinavian Society’s cultural grant. Sari has worked as a choreographer for several platforms in New York City. In her free time, she is an enthusiastic photographer. 
To be able to fund her new choreographic work A Dadaesque Collage of Chauvinist Wisdom, which will be performed as part of the FLICfest at the Irondale Center in Brooklyn in February, 2013, Sari needs donations. She is part of the Kickstarter fundraiser for the FLICfest, which is open for just another two days. They are less than $1500 away from their goal, and with your support they can make it. Donations will help Sari to fund her project. (This is a US tax-deductible donation).
You can see the project by following this link
Photo: Sari Nordman, 2009

The Event of A Thread, a photojourney

Ann Hamilton’s The Event of A thread is commissioned by the Park Avenue Armory in New York City. The work communicates with the building’s architecture, and proposes individual encounters and congregational gatherings. Entering the Armory, I’m amazed by the space itself. The white fabric looks inviting, and the lighting design really emphasizes the beautiful floor. What I personally do not like, are the carrier pigeons in the cages.


Then there are paper bags, which are passed around randomly. These bags are talking to us. 

I get to hold a paper bag. All it talks to me is very refined. The tone of the voice is calming. The voice talks about desire, but it is the spiritual desire that encores light. The threads that connect to the fabric from the swings, and the fabric itself create the airy feeling of the space. I want to lie down. I want to get in touch with the magnificent floor. Is the white fabric like the cloud of the digitalized age? Our shared consciousness, which is now transformed by individual threads that are anti- modern. Or are they the same as the virtual world? While listening to the paper bag, I connect the story to the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze, whose concept of the virtual now starts occupying my thoughts.  

The paper bags with recorded voices are the ‘impersonalized spirits’ talking in the space. The bag I hold becomes the intimate link between the abstract and the embodied. Next, I get on a swing, and let it move me through the space. Its movements become time. Perhaps this space makes us visit the concept of the non-technological of our lives, like the play and flow would be. Trying to be outside the industrial nonsense. I try to let my body feel the space. We are like in a rock concert, trusting each other collectively, letting ourselves experiment this play together. A collective play.

I have a problem with the pigeons, what are those weird birds in their cages? Are they confirmations of the past, the architectural plans, messages carried in-between? They are silent and obedient, so we observe them.  They are on the table right next to the  ‘ceremonial masters’ who are sitting on their chairs, looking at their dry papers and uttering almost silently. The readers are performing a performance, where the birds are their backdrop, an element to show the human mind. The birds are the messengers waiting for a task to deliver a letter across, a message of a carrier

 We, their audience are worshipers of the mechanics. What is a better place to show it off than in this hall, which is not empty at all. If we thought it was empty, we would claim that false in an instant. The windows themselves, the interior of the hall, and the exterior daylight or nightlight intruding and coloring the space is in a constant motion. Now the light paths are carving the space underneath, front and back of the swings.  

We consider our world as virtual, and this event becomes one like it. My suggestion is that do not try to make your visit only a communal. The white cloud fabric is making a point to be there, to breathe with it, and allow it to stop you or change the patterns of your movements.

I take the stairs up to the balcony. This itself gives me a different meaning, the perspective of randomness of this event. The experience is structured for us to play, and the play has a spiritual or metaphysical dimension. According to the paper bag, it connects us to desire. Desire for life? Movements of the ocean, clouds, vehicles, eternity, the movement of the cells of our bodies?