No giant terrace in Helsinki this summer – smaller joint terraces on several market squares

5.5.2022 | Helsinki City Premises Ltd has been surveying the possibility of using Hietalahti Market Square in the coming summer as a joint terrace for restaurateurs. An operator was sought for the terrace project, but a functional model for dividing the responsibilities, costs and risks involved could not be found with the operator candidates. However, instead of one giant terrace, different market squares of Helsinki will now feature several smaller entrepreneur-driven joint terraces.

“For example, Töölö Market Square and Havis Amanda Square will have terraces next summer, operated by local restaurateurs. Hietalahti Market Square may also become a summertime restaurant oasis, but in a slightly smaller scale than what was originally planned. The plan is also to build a joint summer terrace for the restaurateurs of Hietalahti Market Hall in the market square area with room for flea markets as well,” says Managing Director Peggy Bauer from Helsinki City Premises Ltd.

Helsinki City Premises Ltd produced the Senate Square and Kasarmitori Square summer terraces in 2020 and 2021. The terrace trials have generated positive feedback from Helsinki residents and travellers alike, and their significance to the restaurants involved and the vitality of the entire city centre has been considerable.

“After all, the Senate Square and Kasarmitori Square terraces were exceptional during the coronavirus pandemic, which is why the City played a strong role in their management. Now, the purpose was to change the giant terrace concept to make it more entrepreneur-driven, but due to reasons including scheduling problems, we were unable to build a model that would have worked mathematically.”

Aspects such as the difficult infrastructure of the market square areas have posed challenges to the giant terrace concept. There is a lack of basic infrastructure such as water supply, sewerage, electricity and toilets in the areas, making the organisation of the operations very costly. Permanence and long-term plans are also needed to guarantee investments.

As such, Bauer’s hope is that a suitable location could be assigned for the giant terrace in the future for five years at a time, for example. She emphasises the importance of planning, as well as the importance of the market squares and the planning of their cityscape and infrastructure.

“The market squares are Helsinki’s parade venues, and the implementation of projects related to them must be planned with style and respect for the special characteristics and history of the areas. When implemented well and with care, the terrace areas can bring more vitality to spaces in the city that have perhaps been given little attention before. Joint terraces are also a great way to highlight and develop the food culture of Helsinki,” Bauer concludes.

Helsinki City Premises Ltd (former Helsingin Leijona Oy and Helsinki Wholesale Market) is a company owned entirely by the City of Helsinki, the branch of activity of which is developing the facilities and areas it leases. The company’s task is to raise Helsinki’s profile into a more attractive and competitive city by developing aspects such as the city’s urban and food culture, as well as market square and market hall operations.