Return to the club room
The club room at Palkkatilankatu 1 in Länsi-Pasila was redecorated into a cosy lounge area around seven years ago. After having been closed during the coronavirus pandemic, the room is now back in active use.
You will forget the late-year darkness when you walk through the doorway into the well-lit courtyard of Palkkatilankatu 1. Right around the corner, the first-floor windows of stairwell F are adorned with colourful curtains and you are greeted with jolly hand waves at the end of a table. We have arrived at the club room.
We are greeted by Heka’s Resident of the Year 2022, Ulla-Kaija Heinilä. She has also had a hand in the club room taking its current form.
“This used to be one of those drab conference rooms,” Ulla-Kaija says.
“The vibe changed drastically when we introduced some colour. I believe it was the second to last day of the year seven years ago when we noticed that we still had some money left in our budget, so we headed to the local Ikea!”
Now, the room is furnished with discount couches, carpets and shelves. Shower curtains are glimmering in the windows. Everything is based on ease of use. The latest acquisition was a dishwasher, due to which the club room no longer needs cardboard tableware.
“The furniture and the utensils are all such that nothing can break. And we have this donated red barbershop chair as well. It’s important to us that people enjoy coming and being here. That’s why we always have coffee, tea, juice and cookies in our kitchen cabinets.”
Toys and games in use
While giving a tour of the premises, Ulla-Kaija gives us a peek behind the curtain behind the serving table. Back there is an unfinished children’s corner where the youngest family members can retreat to play their own games.
“Residents have donated Lego blocks and toys to us. Our plan is to acquire even more of them, as well as games and books,” Ulla-Kaija lists.
Long-term house committee member and “jack of all trades” Tomi Uusitalo also arrives at the scene. He has come to shoot pool with his youngest child, Niko, who is 12 years old.
“We don’t have to look beyond our family to find people to play with,” the father of four boys comments.
But first, the serving table has to be cleared. The red tablecloth hides a loose table top, under which is a pool table.
“We found the pool table in a storage. We had a separate table top made for it so that it can serve many purposes,” Ulla-Kaija explains.
A separate meeting room in the future
The Palkkatilankatu 1 complex features 11 stairwells and 203 apartments. The apartment sizes vary from studios to family apartments with more than a hundred square metres of floor area.
“The building was awarded prizes for its architecture back in the day,” Ulla-Kaija says.
“We completed a facade renovation a couple of years ago, but the yard is still unfinished.”
Ulla-Kaija serves as the housing company’s resident representative in the renovation project. She was also the housing committee’s chairperson for a long time. However, today she is filling in for the new chairperson, Kaarle Wikuri, who was appointed in October.
“Kaarle and his wife Iris are a bit busy with other things at the moment. Let’s just say that the newest resident in our building is the chairperson’s son,” Ulla-Kaija says in congratulation.
The renovation project also covers another, smaller club room located in the yard area.
“The way we divide the use of the facilities is that the smaller room will be used for building committee meetings. This larger room will continue to serve as the venue for the building’s Christmas parties and the annual resident meeting. It’s also better suited for various family events, club activities and just hanging out. We’ve had events such as a Prometheus Camp party, a baby shower, birthday parties, an estate inventory and memorials here, and people have also celebrated Christmas Eve and the end of Ramadan here. We’ve also had various arts and crafts clubs, such as a mosaic club, as well as a homework club for the children of immigrant families.”
“We had one of our sons’ confirmation party and another son’s 18th birthday party here,” Tomi interjects.
The club room also served as the venue for Pinja’s 12th birthday party. Her grandmother Vuokko recounts that the programme featured games, a disco and skincare activities.
Relaunching club activities
During the coronavirus pandemic, the club room was closed and the building committee’s meetings were held remotely. In those days, communality and shared activities were sought outside.
“The yard was our saviour. In the first coronavirus spring, I acquired some planters for the yard so that residents can plant flowers and herbs in them. We now have 12 of them. Luckily, the yard continues to serve as an extension of the club room. We have toy boxes for children, as well as a dart board and badminton and floorball equipment behind a code lock for older residents.”
After a few quiet years, the club room will once again house a homework club for the children of immigrant families. The room has also housed various arts and crafts clubs.
The club room is also used for holding a recycling day a couple times a year; any items that do not find a new owner among the residents are taken to a charity organisation together. The rules state that the club room may not be used for activities that would benefit the building committee financially. However, residents are allowed to hold small-scale sales of items such as baked goods. The rules also state that the club room must be quiet by ten in the evening and the room must be returned in the same tidy condition that it was received in.
“The floor is waxed and the room is cleaned thoroughly twice a year, but apart from that, the room is always under the user’s responsibility. Not once have there been any issues,” Ulla-Kaija says appreciatively.
As the year is drawing to a close, the people running the club room are already looking to the future. They are planning to hold a bimonthly children’s Saturday and a monthly coffee service in the room. Imagination is the limit.