Workshop: Cultural Mega-projects in City Branding

We are the citybranders-team: Jonas from Copenhagen, Lari from Turku, Vici from Marburg and Simon & Mathias from Brussels, under the wise guidance of Kati and Oxana.

After an inspriring icebreaking game and a first getting-to-know-eachother talk, the citybranding team set off on a mega-journey through urban cultural spaces.

On our first session on Tuesday we learnt that besides products, also places, thus cities, are promoted by branding. The brand should reflect the image of the city, with both material (eg. flagship buildings) and immaterial (eg. history, stereotypes…) elements. Next on the line were the homework-presentations of the participants about cultural projects in their home towns. We had diverse examples of projects scaling from cultural diversity festivals with local and international impacts to educational projects focusing on the identities of inhabitants of the city.

The branding theme was continued in the afternoon by an “excursion” in central Helsinki. The guiders of the team kicked each of us one by one of the tram at separate locations in order to explore the city with the eyes of a first timer. Only guided by a letter and map and a healthy portion of curiosity, we had the freedom to wander in the city by ourselves, and enjoy the atmosphere of the moment. After the happy reunion, we visited the Mad About Helsinki –exhibition in the City Museum of Helsinki to compare our findings with the favorite places voted by locals.

The next day after sharing experiences from the city-dropping-exploration-excursion-expedition we moved on to the next chapter of our journey, the topic of cultural flagships and mega-projects. With the case study of Guggenheim in Bilbao and the plans of establishing one in Helsinki, we had some very fruitful discussions about the topic.

The last day of workshop sessions started with a spontaneous fieldwork-trip. Following an inspirational talk with Egea-alumni Timo Hämäläinen the previous night, we decided to take a look at alternatives for the proposed Guggenheim site. We traveled to the windy Hanasaari power plant, which is planned to be closed down within the next ten years. We crystallized all these experiences and enlightening conversations into two main concepts.

Our first concept is the idea of comparing the official reserved site for the Guggenheim with the option of possibly developing it in Hanasaari. Secondly, we propose that instead of using the Guggenheim brand, Helsinki should support the creation of a more localized cultural flagship, that envoys Finnish values and identity.

This workshop and this week has been an enriching experience intellectually, and at the same time we had fun and bonded new cross-cultural-borderless-friendships. <3!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

With love,

the city-branders-team-friends-workshop-seminar-group.

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