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The Empire-style façade of Helsinki’s harbourside City Hall is just that: a façade. The building, originally a hotel when it was built in the early 1800s, was remodelled in the 1960s, keeping just its outer skin as dictated by strict conservation regulations. Today, the 1960s interior – with its white walls and enormous forest green shag-pile rug – has in its turn been preserved. Two opposing architectural styles co-exist here and the building is a good metaphor for Helsinki’s current design conundrum.

The city has recently been chosen as the…


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