Kiinteistö Oy Kaapelitalo has over 300 long-term tenants and numerous subtenants. The Cable Factory houses 3 museums, 12 galleries, dance theatres, art schools and a host of artists, bands and companies. Get to know some of them!
With its combination of temporary and permanent tenants, this corridor has become a real impact zone that explodes with energy, ideas and new possibilities. It is exactly the kind of Cable Factory that we originally dreamed of. - Farbe Oy and Galleria Käytävä / Ulla Kuronen, artist (Photo: Outi Törmälä, Quiet)
“For a few years we lived in Stockholm, where I became acquainted with Lukas colours. When we returned to Finland, these colours were not available here. The boss of Lukas at the time proposed that we set up a company in order to import these artist’s colours. Luckily I didn’t know what I was getting into back then: long days and a lot of paperwork, in addition to the attention demanded by two preschool daughters. I couldn’t always find the time to paint.
We were among the first to move to the Cable Factory in 1989. We heard a rumour that space was available here. Some of the old Nokia machinery was still operating on some floors, but Merikaapelihalli – the former marine cable plant – was empty and had a great echo. No one at the time, not even the consultants who were leasing the facilities, had any idea of what was being created. The eyes of an artist could nevertheless see colours on the walls, life in the corridors and the daring that would be required.
Eventually we were offered the former optical cable laboratory on the second floor, where the tenants could build dividing walls. Each tenant built one such wall, and this created the embryo of our functional community. Farbe found a home here, and I got to paint and serve customers, most of whom were other artists at the Cable Factory. Financial success was not a priority at the start – more important to us was the opportunity to be part of creating a unique artist community and, above all, to do creative work. In addition to the artists here, a toy warehouse, carpentry shop, fish skin tanner and handcrafted papermaker provided a fresh perspective on life – even when water from the papermaking process dripped through the ceiling and added an unexpected touch to my watercolours!
At a time when there was not Cable Factory Office yet, everyone came to us as we always had our door open. Farbe was an info desk, therapy room and meeting place all in one.
We were concerned about the future of this unique building, so we set up Pro Kaapeli association among tenants. Amid the great recession at the time, the City of Helsinki accepted our proposal to use the building for cultural purposes as a self-financing organisation. By actively submitting columns to newspapers we managed to dispel the wildest visions of tearing down the building, and in so doing we created a unique combination of art, media, physical culture and commercial activities. The empty walls on our floor inspired us to open Galleria Käytävä, literally the “Corridor Gallery”, together with the Cable Factory.
The exhibitions here serve as a display window for the Cable Factory, and visitors often begin their tour of the building from the gallery. Since the beginning I have been responsible for managing this gallery in addition to everything else. With its combination of temporary and permanent tenants, this corridor has become a real impact zone that explodes with energy, ideas and new possibilities. It is exactly the kind of Cable Factory that we originally dreamed of. Twenty-five years is a lifetime in itself, one that has been filled with both happy moments and darker times. We look after our neighbours.
And it certainly is a luxury to be able to fish for herring from the Cable Factory’s own pier outside!”
The unpolished appeal of the old factory building suits us well and makes the Cable Factory a unique alternative among Helsinki’s cultural offerings. It is also a great plus that each tenant can transform their space into something unique and personal. - Dance Theatre Hurjaruuth / Arja Pettersson, Director (Photo: Outi Törmälä, Quiet)
“In the early 1990s the City of Helsinki announced that it was leasing cultural space at the Cable Factory. At the time Hurjaruuth had an office and small rehearsal facilities in a house we had refurbished in Pitäjänmäki.
Back then the Cable Factory was one big open space inside, and Nokia’s factory employees could still be seen walking around in their overalls. The space was divided to provide the performance space and foyer we needed, along with changing rooms and workshop. It was a big change: our touring theatre finally its own permanent space.
The Cable Factory continued to attract more and more artists in different fields, forming a community here within the largest cultural centre in Finland. Hurjaruuth’s road was by no means an easy one, however. Dance audiences were small, but as a working environment the Cable Factory felt good right from the start, as Hurjaruuth has always tried to combine different art forms in new and interesting ways.
We introduced our Winter Circus in 1994. Initially we performed it on our own stage and in Merikaapelihalli. Pannuhalli was renovated as circus space in the early 2000s, and later we also got more rehearsal and office space. Pannuhalli is ideal for the circus, as it is easy to transform into an entirely new world to suit the theme of the performance, which can also be extended into the café and foyer. In a cultural centre like the Cable Factory, audiences can also visit exhibitions, galleries, the book shop and the café at the same time.
We were keen to develop our public work, so we launched the Tonttukoulu, “Elf School”, in 2005 when one of our acrobats was enthusiastic and qualified to lead children’s circus classes. Since then we have extended our training activities to include professional circus workshops and workshops for school children. Another important aspect of our activities is our international festivals, including the Ruutia! dance festival and Red Pearl Women’s clown festival.
The unpolished appeal of the old factory building suits us well and makes the Cable Factory a unique alternative among Helsinki’s cultural offerings. It is also a great plus that each tenant can transform their space into something unique and personal.”
I like the philosophy – that money is not invested in the walls so much as in the content. - Zodiak - Center for New Dance / Harri Kuorelahti, Artistic Director (Photo: Zodiak, Jenni Kivelä: Kleine Monster / Marko Mäkinen)
“Founded in 1986, Zodiak – formerly Zodiak Presents – moved to the Cable Factory in December 1989, originally on a short-term basis as Zodiak got the funding to rent the former high voltage laboratory, now the restaurant, for a period of three months. The Zodiak team was keen to show what it was capable of and got to work organising a new dance festival. Comprising five different performances and lasting half a month, the festival generated a lot of positive feedback and helped make Zodiak a permanent part of the growing community of cultural actors and artists at the Cable Factory.
In autumn 1991 the last Zodiak performance was held at the former high voltage laboratory, which was due to be converted into a restaurant. Zodiak’s new home would be a small hall in the staircase F, now part of the Theatre Museum. After a year Zodiak moved into Turbiinisali after its renovation was completed. As a performance space the former turbine hall was beautiful and otherwise quite functional, except it lacked a foyer, which made waiting for performances to begin quite exotic – especially in the freezing winter.
The Zodiak Center for New Dance was formed in 1997 after the Ministry of Education made the wise decision to include it within the scope of the Theatres and Orchestras Act. This increased the amount of state funding we received, as well as funding from the City of Helsinki. We began with our own Zodiak Stage, but these days we also have activities and performances in Pannuhalli and our two studios. We have since been given the task of serving as Helsinki’s regional dance centre, in which our role is to support local artists and serve as a channel for locals to enjoy the art of dance.
We have always been happy here at the Cable Factory. I like the philosophy – that money is not invested in the walls so much as in the content. Each year we have around 30 different productions, around half of which are premieres. Our activities focus on hiring freelance artists for our performance and on our public work that we perform in workshops, meet the artist events, courses and lectures.
We want to profile ourselves as a place where audiences think, “Aha, the Cable Factory and Zodiak, they always have performances there and you can see what’s happening in the field of dance”. When it comes to dance, the Cable Factory is increasingly appealing as more and more dance schools and other related actors move in.
Our guiding principle here at Zodiak is that we respect the arts and listen closely together with our dance artists. I believe that this leads to quality: Zodiak’s productions also tour a lot overseas and have enjoyed success internationally. Just as Kiasma guarantees high-quality contemporary art for audiences, so we are the contemporary art museum of dance.”
“My first workspace was in Kallio. It was a wonderful place that I shared with lovely people. It was like a small community, kind of like a second home. When it came time to move out, the Cable Factory was a natural choice – and also a dream. Its warm and lively atmosphere was very attractive, and I thought it was the perfect place to work. An artist’s work can be quite lonely at times, so the idea that a lot of creative work goes on behind each door here seemed fascinating, important and inspiring – and reassuring, in a way.
Initially I worked for many years as a subtenant in various artist studios. Even though the continuous moving was quite tough at times, it also taught me a lot. I got to try many different spaces, and gradually I formed an idea of what kind of space would be best for my own work. In 2008 I finally got to move into my first own studio. It was one of the smallest at the Cable Factory – about two by five metres – and absolutely wonderful! I was so happy. Over time the size of my paintings grew, and for a long time I painted in such a way that, if I had to change the position of the work in progress, I would have to step out into the corridor to turn it around before putting it back in the studio!
When I got to move into my current studio, I had the feeling that I could dance in here – it felt so big! But now it too is filling up with paintings and everything that my work involves. Practically all the furniture I found in the Cable Factory’s skips and recycling room. It’s great to have this kind of recycling system that can help save nature perhaps even just a little.
The windows in this studio too are to the north, which suits me as the light is quite steady regardless of the time of day. Here I do my creative painting work and everything else that is part of an artist’s profession – sometimes there really seems to be a lot of it! My dream would be to learn how to divide my time – and space – in an organised way so that I could do certain jobs in certain places. Right now I fill in grant applications, plan transportation, make invitations and fill in tax forms surrounded by all my paints, and go from one task to the other very intuitively.
Painting and other contemplation in this profession can be quite a lonely process, so it’s great to have the restaurant Hima & Sali downstairs. The atmosphere there is very warm, and if you feel like talking about something, you usually find someone familiar there with whom you can chat and exchange ideas. Being an artist in the studio is very intense work, on the other hand, so we respect each other’s peace and quiet. At the Cable Factory I sense a spirit of community, that the people here take care of each other and mean well.
Music has always been important to me and also plays a big role in my paintings. Different rhythms, tones and feelings, happiness and sadness and so much more often transfers from the music onto the canvas. I’ve also recently discovered dance and am so inspired by it that I have begun dancing ballet accompanied by a pianist at Tamara Rasmussen’s dance school on Monday mornings. You can enjoy the Cable Factory in so many ways. One dream is that the Cable Factory would organise its own festival one day based on all the bands, dancers, photographers, painters and other creative people here. While I’m waiting for that to happen, I’m happy each morning when I climb these stairs and open the door to my studio to a new day.”
Whenever we want, even on a daily basis, we can visit some gallery with our students or visit the studios of artists. The freight elevator, which can fit a car, is very popular among the students – you can see its counterweights, so it makes for a very illustrative and educational experience. - Arkki, School of Architecture for Children and Youth / Pihla Meskanen, Director and Founder (Photo: Outi Törmälä, Quiet)
“When architecture was included in the arts curriculum in 1993 along with circus, my mother Tuuli Tiitola-Meskanen was serving as an expert on the arts education committee at the Finnish National Board of Education. I was then an architecture student, so she asked me whether I would be interested in forming together with fellow students some kind of group to provide basic lessons in architecture to children. I thought it was a good idea – I had the crazy confidence typical of a young person.
So together with my mother and Miina Vuorinen we founded Arkki.
The idea was strange to a lot of people at first. They thought that if a young person studies architecture, he or she would become an architect, but that’s silly. After all, many kids start taking violin lessons at the age of 4 without ever thinking of becoming a professional violinist.
Initially Arkki offered courses for 7 to 14 year olds, but now kids can begin already from the age of 4 and continue all the way until upper secondary school. Around 600 children and young people attend our classes each week. For some reason, most of our students are boys: as one mother put it, we are a kind of “counterbalance to ice hockey”.
Our courses are held in evenings and on weekends. In addition, our teachers visit schools to teach architecture, and during the daytime various groups also visit us – such as students from the KULPS culture and sports programme in Espoo, as well as employees from companies participating in occupational wellbeing workshops. In recent years we have also organised numerous open events; for example, during Night of the Arts at the Cable Factory we always have a workshop. In summertime we offer short courses along with other groups offering art education here at the Cable Factory. Kids attending our house-building courses and miniature model courses like exploring this area and even go swimming at the nearby Hietalahti beach on hot days.
We moved to the Cable Factory from Kauniainen in 1996. I was studying at the Department of Architecture, which had facilities here. I knew that the spaces were suitable for our purposes, but they were also in demand. Masters courses were previously held in our current facilities, and I knew in advance that they would soon be made available by the previous tenant.
The Cable Factory is ideal for us. We can explore the building easily and safely with the kids. Whenever we want, even on a daily basis, we can visit some gallery with our students or visit the studios of artists. The freight elevator, which can fit a car, is very popular among the students – you can see its counterweights, so it makes for a very illustrative and educational experience.
Several of our classes recently performed as shadow images for an installation by the artist Jaakko Niemelä. These kinds of experiences are easy to arrange among the other tenants here. One year our students made clay relief decorations of the Cable Factory to hang on the traditional Christmas tree.
We could always do with more space, of course, as storing all our materials and the students’ works takes up a lot. Once when we had foreign guests visiting us they thought that the entire Cable Factory was used by Arkki. I then led them to our 300-square-metre facilities and everyone had a good laugh!”