Sometime in mid-September I jumped on a cheap plane ride to Finland to see old friends and make new ones. My trip coincided with all my buddies being away on tour but fortunately they had hooked me up with a friend of theirs’ place to stay and decent 8.5” set up to use.
This meant I got to explore Helsinki on 4 wheels instead of foot whilst everyone was at work.
As well as attending my buddies 20th anniversary gig, my other main reason for going was to have a proper roll at the amazing Suvilahti DIY.
Behold within these cyber pages you will see my crummy iphone4 photos of this now iconic spot. When Hangup asked if I’d do them a write up how could I refuse?
The ethics of such a tight knit community such as those who built Suvilahti are to be commended way beyond what one skate punk tourist writes on his mate’s blog. Make a pilgrimage there and see for yourself the gnarly yet creative curves and walls down in Helsinki’s original industrial locale, once left abandoned as a city council car park on the edge of Kaillio next to the Helen Company’s waterfront factory.
It was in 2011 that the first pour by local skateboard miscreants roaming the city and reclaiming this patch of decay as their own playground happened in that time honoured sense of ‘fuck it, lets see what happens’ so many DIY spots are conceived.
It wasn’t long before money was raised for more concrete creations and the original 3 ½ foot high quarter pipe expanded right along the back wall. Next came the tight big centre block, various bumps, some nifty corners, a hip, a bar, and so on and so forth with no two walls the same. Home poured concrete was the coping of choice which fits lovingly into the lips of walls and bowled corners making for a challenging but satisfying grind.
The whole project has been funded by locals, visitors, sponsored skate jams, local skate shops and board companies and there might be a bit of corporate soft drinks co’s money in there too. The site is now so well developed as a skatespot the council have agreed a lease for it securing its future for the time being. Government Health and Safety jobsworths insisted on railings and barriers to stop drunks falling off the back end so there’s now an amazing back drop of benches and picnic tables to chill out on when you need a breather, complete with customised can holders, as well as the obligatory DIY spot BBQ fire pit.
Ample bumps, lumps, cracks and holes to throw you off balance making you appreciate how dialled some of the locals have it when they make lines look ridiculously easy. With time has spawn smoother mixes and well planned transitions, using a multitude of building methods from hardcore, breezeblocks and rubble to polystyrene and old relics or gawd knows what. All of it seems to work and holds some great flow around the place for some interesting lines.
At time of writing a new kidney bowl is being slowly born and looks amazing.
With all the nooks and crannies, banks bumps and tight trannies, Suvilahti is a world class DIY spot and testament to Finnish ingenuity, perseverance and creativity. I guess being able to survive harsh winters and enjoy long summers will do that to a tight knit, autonomously proud skateboarding community, who were polite, welcoming and total shredders. This place exceeded my expectations and I had a blast.