The summer season of the Senate Square concluded at the end of August, and the results of the terrace area trial have now been compiled. Over a period of two months, the terrace managed to provide some 400,000 visitors with seasonal treats and a safe meeting place. At the same time, it also directly employed about 250 professionals from a variety of fields.
“The trial hosted at the Senate Square terrace demonstrates that we can find new ways to use urban spaces, experiment with things and leverage the city organisation to build networks. It also serves to communicate that we will not become stagnant and will, instead, strive to achieve new things together,” says Mayor of Helsinki Jan Vapaavuori.
The trial was a welcome boost for city residents, domestic tourists, nearby businesses and the vitality of the city centre as a whole.
“It was wonderful to see people finding their way to the Senate Square and local residents falling in love with the city’s central plaza all over again,” rejoices Peggy Bauer, operative director for Torikorttelit, which handled the practical organisation of the summer activities at the Senate Square.
The Senate Square terrace featured a total of 16 restaurant operators, all of which were satisfied with the results based on a feedback survey.
“The Senate Square had a massive positive impact on our business, and this success will absolutely contribute to enabling us to keep going. Skiffer & Seksico Tacobar employed about ten people over the course of the summer. Otherwise, we would not have been able to offer a job to more than a few of them. All of the direct customer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. People have clearly enjoyed themselves and hoped for these kinds of arrangements in our city.”
(Feedback survey to entrepreneurs who participated in the Senate Square summer trial, Tuukka Iivonen / Skiffer x Seksico Tacos)
In addition to this, almost all brick-and-mortar retailers and restaurants in the Torikorttelit blocks around the Senate Square found that they gained at least some benefit from the Senate Square terrace activities.
“I think the terrace pretty much salvaged this summer. It brought a lot of people to this end of Aleksanterinkatu. Since the terrace was featured in national headlines and news broadcasts, even out-of-town visitors found their way to the square and the entire Torikorttelit area – some of them for the very first time.”
(Feedback survey to Torikorttelit operators, Heli Rönkkö / LUMI Supermarket)
For many of the customers, the visit to the Senate Square terrace seems to have been one of the highlights of the summer, almost equivalent to a trip abroad. The general implementation, safety, atmosphere and diverse range of restaurants received the most praise.
“The number-one spot in Helsinki this summer.”
“Thank you, City of Helsinki, hopefully you will make this happen again next summer!” This was absolutely one of the highlights of the summer, since all prior plans had to be scrapped. And once tourists return to Helsinki, I think this place will bowl them over.”
“An absolutely wonderful setup – calming, harmonious and delicately beautiful. Thank you for the hand washing stations, they were the absolute best.”
“An atmosphere you would expect to find in Southern Europe!”
(Comments posted on the Torikorttelit Facebook page)
The Senate Square terrace was also a bit of a social media sensation during the summer season: everyone wanted to sample the treats available and post a photo of the experience on social media. Between July and August, more than 2,000 Instagram posts were shared with the hashtags #senaatintorinkesä #senaatintorinjättiterassi and @senaatintorinjättiterassi.
Continuation remains open
There have been plenty of requests to keep the terrace activities going, but no decisions have yet been made.
“Coronavirus or no, the terrace concept is entirely viable for coming summer seasons, and we could even expand it to locations beyond the Senate Square. Many have also hoped for more activities on the Senate Square during other seasons, too,” says Peggy Bauer.
“One thing is for sure, people will want to keep living full lives, enjoying new and diverse experiences and sensations – provided that this is possible in a safe and responsible manner,” Mayor Vapaavuori says in summary.
Summer at the Senate Square in figures
16 restaurant operators
4 pop-up outlets
830 customer seats (initially 480)
12 hand washing stations
Direct employment effect about 250 jobs
0 public disturbances
159,581 food servings sold
272,168 servings of wine, beer and strong spirits sold
247,110 glasses filled
137,760 litres worth of recycled glass bottles
More than 2,000 Instagram posts with the hashtags #senaatintorinkesä #senaatintorinjättiterassi and @senaatintorinjättiterassi
More than 3,000 plants and flowers
78,000 litres of Kekkilä soil for the plants
About 15 km of line to keep the seagulls away
About 100 litres of hand sanitiser (in cooperation with the Pakka preventive substance abuse services)
TOP 5 restaurants
1. Skiffer x Seksico Tacos
2. Via Tribunali
3. Bites Burgers
4. Muru & Pastis
5. Bar Runar
TOP 5 dishes
1. Skiffer x Seksico Tacos: Mixplate
2. Bites Burgers: Green Standard veggie burger
3. Bites Burgers: Standard burger
4. Muru & Pastis: Chanterelle risotto
5. Via Tribunali: Pizza Margherita
TOP 5 wines & cocktails
1. Bar Runar: Strawberry rhubarb cocktail
2. Son Of A Punch: ‘Lucky to be alive’ cocktail
3. Bricco: House Wine Red
4. Dogs and Bubbles by Valkoinen Sali: Champagne
5. Dogs and Bubbles by Valkoinen Sali: Prosecco
Photo: Camilla Bloom, Torikorttelit