Many people think that Arabianranta (the coast or shoreline of Arabia) derives its name from the famous Arabia ceramics and glassware factory. It is a good guess but a wrong one. The name Arabia or rather “Arabian ja Kaanaan maa” (the land of Arabia and Canaan) is already found in documents dated back to the 18th century whereas the Arabia factory was founded not until the year 1871. The exotic names in the area are given during a time, when the area was considered distant to the city center.
Nowadays Arabianranta is a good example of the place of contraries: “old and new”, “nature and urban city”, “industry and residence”, “studying and peace”, “art and technology” and so on. Common features for this district are innovation, courage and communal spirit. Arabianranta’s virtual village, Helsinki Virtual Village, was founded already in the beginning of 21st century and has functioned as the number one brand for this web site ever since.
Arabianranta is a home for 10,000 people, a workplace for 5,000 and a campus for 6,000 students and know-how professionals. As residential district Arabianranta is heterogenic, different types of housing have been favoured and experimented right from the beginning. Few examples are modern loft buildings, city villas, Plus Koti (Plus Home) concept and homes for groups with special needs such as Loppukiri (community housing for active elderly people), Käpytikka (residence for mentally disabled juvenile) and MS-Talo (MS House) (for people with MS). Arabianranta district has formed a “laboratory” for housing and since the year 2007 there has been made testing for services and products called Helsinki Living Lab together with the residents. Besides the local information network, one of the most important services for the residents is the housing association’s own web site, which is being updated by a named moderator from each association.
As a hub for creative industries Arabianranta is a home to 300 enterprises and 4,000 employees. In the field of creative industries the businesses are normally small or medium sized enterprises. After the educational institutes the biggest private sector employers are Iittala Group and Digia Oyj. The objective in future is to attract more and more businesses in the field of creative industries to join the Arabianranta community and operate and develop together with the local educational institutes. The enterprises also find new business partners and customers via this web site and they are able to update their own web site through arabianranta.fi portal.
The unified campus area of Arabianranta consists of 6 educational institutes, 6,000 students and about 1,500 know-how professionals. The universities are The University of Art and Design, Arcada University of Applied Sciences and Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences. The upper secondary vocational institutions are Swedish Prakticum and Finnish Heltech. In the Helsinki Pop & jazz Conservatory almost 1,000 students study rhythm music. Educational institutions and students can use and benefit from this platform in their own research projects, one example of this is Helsinki Living Lab project sponsored by TEKES.
Art and Design City
Arabianranta has been determinedly developed towards “Art and Design City” already over 10 years. The Art and Design City Helsinki Ltd was founded to manage the project and its role became to develop the information network structure and Helsinki Virtual Village services, also the basis for this particular site. “Art and Design” (unique artworks) can be seen in the built environment, in buildings, public yards and premises. The arts and culture are actively introduced to people of Arabianranta by educational institutes such as the performance art of Metropolia, The University of Art and Design and Helsinki Pop & Jazz Conservatory. The educational institutes offer The Masters of Arts Festival, which has become the biggest single event in the area.
Advanced and modern projects and experiments in apartment buildings and in business operations are typical for Arabia district. The latest Art and Design City project is The Helsinki Living Lab project, which has extended to cover the entire Helsinki metropolitan area.