The parallel streets named Linjat (‘lines’) in Kallio were laid out in 1887, and the area quickly developed into a working-class residential district. The main public space of the new district, Karhupuisto park, is located on top of a rocky outcrop in the irregular central joint of a town plan consisting of strict grids oriented in alternating directions.

Lined by tall brick buildings, the park stood out from its surroundings, which at the beginning of the 1900s were dominated by wooden low-rise housing. The oldest of the new houses is ‘Ihantola’ [Wonderful World], at Viides linja 18, designed by master builder O. E. Koskinen and built by a housing company owned by workers. The first residents moved to Ihantola in 1907.  The apartments of Ihantola were small, only 48 of 85 apartments had bathrooms. The residents had common bathrooms in the staircase in each floor. During the refurbishment, completed in 1981, bathrooms were built to all apartments. The façade of Ihantola is lively, with references to vegetal and national-romantic motifs that were in vogue among art nouveau architects. The plaster cladding is painted pink. The castle-like solidity is softened by the many natural and geometric elements on the façade made of natural stones embedded in the plaster. One of the motifs on the façade is the construction year of the building, 1906.

Other nearby late art nouveau buildings include ‘Ylänkö’ at Viides linja 12 in 1908 ( W. G. Palmqvist and Birger Brunila), Viides Linja 16 (J. W. Tikka and W. G. Palmqvist, 1909), Agricolankatu 9 (O. E. Koskinen, 1910), Agricolankatu 11 (Heikki Kaartinen, 1910) and Agricolankatu 13 (Palmqvist and Sjöström, 1911). In all of these, a design vocabulary alluding to a romanticised past is replaced by geometric ornamentation, giving the park surroundings an architecturally unified look, augmented by classicistic and late-modernist houses built in the 1920s.

Designed by city gardener Svante Olsson in 1912, the Karhupuisto park with its lime trees, plantings and sand fields has retained its historical features to this day. The granite sculpture of a bear, which lends its name to the park, was made by Jussi Mäntynen and placed there in 1931.

Source: Art Nouveau in Helsinki – Architectural guide (Helsinki City Museum)

Location

Viides Linja 18, Helsinki
60.1840314, 24.9511623

Images

The street façade photographed from the north, Ihantola
The street façade photographed from the north, Ihantola (© Matti Similä / HKM)
The street façade photographed from the north west, Ihantola
The street façade photographed from the north west, Ihantola (© Matti Similä / HKM)
A detail of the street façade, Ihantola
A detail of the street façade, Ihantola (© Matti Similä / HKM)
Ihantola photographed in 1958, Ihantola
Ihantola photographed in 1958, Ihantola (© Constantin Grünberg / HKM)
Ihantola photographed in 1979, Ihantola
Ihantola photographed in 1979, Ihantola (© Harri Ahola / HKM)
Courtyard photographed in 1979, Ihantola
Courtyard photographed in 1979, Ihantola (© Harri Ahola / HKM)
Original common bathroom in the staircase photographed in 1979, before the refurbishment, Ihantola
Original common bathroom in the staircase photographed in 1979, before the refurbishment, Ihantola (© Harri Ahola / HKM)
Original kitchen of a single-room apartent photographed in 1979, before the refurbishment, Ihantola
Original kitchen of a single-room apartent photographed in 1979, before the refurbishment, Ihantola (© Harri Ahola / HKM)