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The Dance House Helsinki construction project began in 2016 and will continue until 2021. Dance House Helsinki will be constructed next to the Cable Factory in Ruoholahti, Helsinki. It will consist of a new building and facilities that are currently part of the Cable Factory. The constructor is Kiinteistö Oy Kaapelitalo.

Background

The Helsinki Dance House Association, founded in 2010, interviewed various players in the industry before creating their initial plans for the space. The City of Helsinki then commissioned a needs assessment, investigating various potential locations for Dance House Helsinki. The assessment led to the idea of building Dance House Helsinki in conjunction with the Cable Factory.

Dance House Helsinki received a grant worth EUR 15 million from the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation on 28 October 2014. The grant was based on the needs assessment, and is the largest known donation to a single cultural project in Finland. The grant was given to subsidise the construction of Dance House Helsinki and was done so on the condition that the City of Helsinki and the state, which were already involved in the project, would share the remaining costs.

Framework agreement, funding and right of acquisition

On 14 December 2015, the Helsinki City Board made their final decision on the construction of Dance House Helsinki at the Cable Factory. The decision is available to read online (in Finnish) in the City Board notices (44/14.12.2015 Päätöstiedote). The agreement was signed by the parties on 18 December 2015.

In December 2015, funding for the Dance House Helsinki project was secured and the framework agreement signed. The funding amounted to a total of EUR 34.8 million. The new building will be funded by three sources: EUR 15 million from the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation, EUR 6 million from the City of Helsinki and EUR 6 million from the Finnish state.

The funding received will be invested in stages in Kiinteistö Oy Kaapelitalo’s invested unrestricted equity fund and the company will use this capital to construct Dance House Helsinki together with the Helsinki Dance House Association. The funding for the refurbishment of the existing Cable Factory facilities will come from Kiinteistö Oy Kaapelitalo’s budget. The cost of the modification is estimated to be EUR 7.8 million. Upon completion, Dance House Helsinki will be leased to the Helsinki Dance House Association by Kiinteistö Oy Kaapelitalo. The project is set to be completed in 2021.

Based on reports by City of Helsinki legal services (pdf)PTCServices (pdf) and the law firm Hannes Snellman (pdf) (in Finnish) the project will proceed as a non-public project.

On 17 March 2016 the board of Kiinteistö Oy Kaapelitalo appointed Haahtela Oy as the construction consultant and Talli Architecture & Design and JKMM Architects as designers for the project planning phase.

Project plan

Drafting of the project plan began in 2016.  Functionality was extremely important when drafting the plan. The plan’s motto was "The best possible Dance House and an improved Cable Factory". The Dance House Helsinki Project plan (pdf) (in Finnish) was released on 16 March 2017.

Architectural look

Dance House Helsinki’s architectural look Kite’ was announced on 17 August 2017. The head designer is JKMM Architects’ Teemu Kurkela, and architect Pia Ilonen, who has played an important role in the preservation of the Cable Factory, from Talli Architecture & Design (currently ILO Arkkitehdit Oy) is in charge of architectural engineering. Haahtela-rakennuttaminen Oy is acting as consultant for the project.

Kurkela has described Dance House Helsinki's look as follows: "A kite that defies gravity. Industrial and robust. A machine rooted to the earth. A magical box that is not ready before it is filled with dance." There are only a handful of similar projects in the world.

The initial design phase for the Dance House Helsinki involved a combination of old and new, with functionality playing a key role too. The materials have been chosen to fit the industrial milieu. The new building will complement the old Cable Factory, with features such as reflective surfaces adding new dimensions. Cable Factory and Dance House Helsinki are completely different buildings, but together they create a tension that sparks interest.

Inclusion and progression

The tenants of the Cable Factory, dance professionals and local neighbourhoods have been included in the various phases of the project, which began with the interviewing of all long-term tenants of the Cable Factory. The project plan was then developed on the basis of these interviews and the needs assessment.

After the project plan had been completed, the tenants were invited to comment on it first in themed workshops and then in phase-specific information events. At the same time, the City of Helsinki launched a participation and assessment plan (PAP) process. Comments collected during the workshops and the PAP process were incorporated into the project plan and the zoning proposal in spring 2018. A service design project was also launched in the spring together with the tenants of the Cable Factory. The resulting collaboration with stakeholders will continue throughout the project.

The changed town plan of Dance House Helsinki was approved by the Helsinki City Council on 16 May 2018. One complaint was filed about the change but the Helsinki Administrative Court dismissed it on 8 May 2019. The complainant did not apply for permission to appeal to the Supreme Administrative Court and the changed town plan was therefore validated.

Construction work started in October 2019.

Operation of Dance House Helsinki

Dance House Helsinki will be operated by the Helsinki Dance House Association. For further information, visit the Dance House Helsinki website.

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