Commercial sailors arriving in Helsinki, Finland find a comfortable and inviting facility to welcome them and offer a respite from long stretches of time at sea. The Helsinki Seafarers' Centre designed by ARK-House Architects is an alluring and contemporary building that offers a warm and inviting counterpoint to the surrounding steel warehouses and stacks of shipping containers.
The building site preserves native trees and a small rocky outcrop, helping to make it even more of a pleasant refuge. The curving form of the building recalls the lines of seafaring vessels — the extended end of the building calls to mind the prow of a viking ship. The building is designed to seem both familiar and yet also new, in order to make a comfortable and relaxing place for visitors.
The building’s structure and cladding are both wooden, and its form is meant to create, in the designers’ words, “something tantalizingly strange yet hospitable” for visitors from all corners of the globe. Simple amenities like laundry service, coffee, computers and a multi-faith chapel serve the needs of travelers coming for a short visit before heading back once more to the sea.