2011 – Academy of architecture Amsterdam
Finland is a country known for its cultural sauna, wide expansive nature and mökki’s, cabins by the water. Despite this idyllic picture Helsinki, the capital of the northern European republic, is a hub of traffic, stress and healthproblems. As a result of growing unemployment in the country, as many as a quarter of the Finnish population are established in or near the capital and continues to increase each year.
Many Finns have a reclusive nature, which makes it very difficult for them to let themselves go and abreact. In addition, the average Finn has a hard-working and serious attitude that often leads to frustration and excessive amounts of stress. The mökki, nearly every Finnish family has one, offers a pleasant change in this tense existence. Isolated from the urban life one can come here tp unwind. Unfortunately, the most essential quality of a mökki, the distance from daily life, is also its greatest flaw.
The mökki already provides lengthy journeys from the capital in need of relaxation and escape, because the average mökki is easily a day’s drive from Helsinki. But the escapism that lives in the city, and is forced to stay here due to a lack of time, is being satisfied in another gloomy way, with all its consequencess.
Besides a growing population Helsinki’s drinking abuse has also gone up. Alcohol poisoning is the number one cause of death in Finland, killing 17% of the Finns each year. Number two, three and four (heart disease, accidents and suicide) could also be due of excessive alcohol consumption.
According to Professor Andrej Marusic from Slovenia the abuse of alcohol is genetically explained. The Finns have Mongolian ancestors and therefore carry the ADH2-2 gene. This gene is common in Asia, but is quite rare in Europe. Alcohol consumption was scarce among Asian tribes. As a result, they developed differently from the Europeans, who have built up resistance to alcohol by their tradition of alcohol production and consumption.
Lastly, Finland tops the list of countries with the highest suicide rates. Repeatedly this phenomenon is being linked to the minimum amount of sunlit hours on cold winter days, but this is still not scientifically proven. The Norwegians and Swedes, who don’t host the ADH2-2 gene, but live on the same latitude, obey the global average.
How can one escape in a responsible manner from the hectic urban life in Helsinki without actually leaving the city? Solving this complex and deep-rooted issue requires a contrasting and new way of the urban experience – “ Escapism in Helsinki .”