LOPPUKIRI is a housing community for mid-life and elderly people in urban surroundings in Helsinki. The community occupies a seven storey building with 58 flats and circa 450 sq. metres of common area including a spacious roof terrace and a smaller terrace adjacent to the dining room on the ground level. There are two main entrances and staircases both equipped with a lift capable of carrying 13 persons.
LOPPUKIRI property is owned by a private housing corporation (Asunto Oy Helsingin Loppukiri) whose shareholders form the majority of the members of the community. The minimum age of 48 years is required of at least one person in each flat. The homes are of 36 to 80 sq. metres, they all have good facilities for cooking, a bathroom and a balcony.
The construction of the building was started in late autumn 2004 and was completed in April 2006. The planning phase and architectural designing had begun two years earlier to allow the future residents to get involved and decide on the layout of the plan, the room division, the materials and other details. During the co-designing phase people had an opportunity to profound discussions with the architects.
In addition to co-designing their own flats, the residents played an important part in designing the common area. The ground floor and the seventh floor are all for common use. The community kitchen, the dining room, the library, a small sitting area with TV, the office, the laundry and the shelter for bikes are downstairs as well as a storeroom for residents´ use. The top floor is for recreation, there are two saunas, an exercise room, a multipurpose sitting room with a fireplace and a guestroom. In warm season the roof terrace is popular for leisure and small gatherings.
The location of LOPPUKIRI is charming. Arabianranta, a new housing area, is set in an old industrial milieu and is named after the world famous china and earthenware factory Arabia which sits by the mouth of the River Vantaa and the small falls that used to supply electric power. There is a conservation area with a bird sanctuary nearby, not to mention the paths and lanes for walking. The Arabianranta and Vanhakaupunki area (the Arabia Strand and Old Town) was the original site of the township of Helsinki, when it was founded in 1550 by King Gustav Wasa of Sweden. Today the area is turning into a major centre for university campuses and other educational institutes.
The LOPPUKIRI community is a well liked partner to the students in their various research projects on housing and ageing. The public transport services are excellent, the city centre can be reached by a trams and many buses.
THE FIRST OF ITS KIND IN FINLAND
LOPPUKIRI is the outcome of a six year project of The Active Seniors Association. The association was founded in August 2000 to introduce the concept of a housing community for elderly people, in similar lines with the Färdknäppen community in Stockholm.
The Finns are one of the fastest greying nations in the world. The care for the elderly was, more or less, the responsibility of the society in the past two or three decades, but since the economic depression in 1990s there have been cuts in the social services while the number of senior citizens is increasing. The half a dozen women who founded the association had seen and faced themselves the problems in arranging care for their relatives. They wanted to take the initiative in their own hands, started to promote the idea and got an eager response. In January 2001 the city authorities allotted a site for building and two years later a collaboration agreement was signed with the construction management company.
Now, after the completion of the construction and the start up of the community, The Active Seniors Association stands as a legal mother body for the LOPPUKIRI community. Gradually the community has become more independent, though a strong link of collaboration in training and many other activities will remain. For the time being the residents have a double role, as they are members of the community and most of them also members of the Active Seniors Association. It is hoped for that also the future residents of LOPPUKIRI will join the Association and participate in the training programmes. The members of the Association are welcome to volunteer in the work and the social life of the community, not necessarily everybody even aims to become a live-in resident and a flat owner.
LOPPUKIRI IN FACTS AND FIGURES
Address: Birger Kaipiaisen katu 1, 00560 Helsinki, E-mail: loppukiriyhteiso (at)gmail.com, loppukiriseniors.blogspot.fi, Active Seniors www.aktiivisetseniorit.fi
HOW LOPPUKIRI IS ORGANIZED
The LOPPUKIRI community consists of the residents of the building. The community provides and enjoys a lively social life offering a choice for everyone to pick from according to one's own interests. It is a dear duty to everybody to look after the common home, to keep it clean and pleasant. Only the purely technical maintenance is trusted to an outsider. A common meal is served Tuesday to Friday at two o'clock, except for the three summer months. Cooking together and sharing the meals are the most important and appreciated events, well liked by those who are on duty and those who enjoy the outcome. A week's working shift comes for each group of ca. ten persons about once in six weeks. The community also tends an allotment garden nearby.
The community meeting is the decision making body for the LOPPUKIRI community. Its main duty is to see that the community is run smoothly, that the homecare, food economy and kitchen shifts are well organized. It manages the financial matters of the community and discusses and decides on whatever proposal has been brought to it. Every member has one vote in the community meeting.
N.B. Loppukiri, if literally translated, means A final spurt. In Finnish the word also implies some kind of a climax, in our case perhaps the climax of our life.
18.11.2006 written by Kaarina Hughes
Arabiankatu 19 A