In love with Helsinki

Pablo Riquelme is one of Finland’s first city designers. He has worked on various design projects and assignments for the City of Helsinki since the spring of 2014. Pablo is a carpenter by trade, who has studied design at institutions including the School of Art and Design, completed the IDBM programme and had a long career in brand design offices.

“I want to introduce an approach that puts the end user at the centre of the design of public spaces. I also place a strong emphasis on using common sense in my work, i.e. in the more optimal use of human resources, time and money.”

During the year, Pablo has been involved with the Helsinki Art Museum (HAM) brand and design team in the launch of the HAM change process. He has taken part in activities such as sparring by the design team of Aalto University students formed to plan HAM’s public spaces.

“My agenda involves bringing young people into the industry, because I know how difficult it is for young designers to land their first project.”


A Home That Fits

Pablo Riquelme is currently running a variety of larger projects alongside several smaller auxiliary and consulting assignments, with an emphasis on social and health care.

One of these projects is A Home That Fits, which is being carried out alongside the City of Helsinki’s Youth Department. While there are no precise figures on the number of homeless young people in Helsinki, it is thought that there are more than a thousand. The A Home That Fits project will draw attention to the problem.

The project has three aims. The primary purpose is to increase awareness of homeless youths. The second is to build a network which strives to solve the problem as a community. Thirdly, a range of solutions will be sought through experimentation. Such experiments will include joint residences for young people and the elderly and various forms of temporary housing. Young people are heavily involved in all of these approaches – either through their work or voluntary activities.

“This is the most beautiful project I’ve ever been involved in. Important and interesting in itself, it is also bringing together people from different cultures and social backgrounds.”


A relationship with Helsinki

Pablo would like everyone to have a personal relationship with the city and participate in its decisions. This would make everyone more appreciative of their home metropolis.

“Let’s take care of the city. Its public spaces are ours, not no-man’s land.”

Pablo Riquelme was born in Chile but has lived in Finland for over 20 years. He believes that a person’s choice of domicile is as important as choosing a spouse.

“Choosing a place to live is a critical decision. It affects everything and is the basis for all else you do. While you choose your place of work based on reason, you choose where you live with your heart.”

“I do not know whether Helsinki seduced me – or I seduced Helsinki. I don’t even know how our relationship began. However, it is the longest love affair I’ve ever had.”


A confession of love for Helsinki

“La ciudad de Helsinki ha bound mi hogar desde el año 1998,

Es el lugar donde he desarrollado mi profesión, he hecho amistades y he crecido como persona.

Lo que más aprecio de la ciudad es su relación con la naturaleza la escala humana de su arquitectura y la proximidad al mar, elemento que es muy importante para mi.

La relación que una persona desarrolla con el lugar donde elige vivir es siempre muy intima, en mi caso mi “romance” con Helsinki a sido mi relación más extensa e intensa con altos y bajos, encuentros y conflictos aún así siempre he elegido volver y darnos una nueva oportunidad. “


Text and picture: Siiri Mäkelä


Pablo Riquelme chose Katja Lindroos as a maker of the Helsinki of the future.