Urban residents create The Pearl of Helsinki skate park.

Why is it The Man hates skate parks so much? My good friend helped produce a movie called Made In Venice, documenting the struggles it took to legitimize the sport and the ridiculously long fight to create what is now considered one of the world's most iconic skate parks.

And now on the other side of the world, a skate park that has been in existence for over a decade has been slated for demolition. This park was created by hundreds of passionate DIYers who got together to make something that is more than a skate park. It is a hug for the community.

It is The Pearl Of Helsinki.

To celebrate this cultural hub, and serve as a reminder of what will be lost if the city demolishes it, photographer Keke Leppälä created an exhibition called Suvilahti DIY – The Pearl of Helsinki.

From the beginning, everyone knew that the city's leased land was temporary and that Suvilahti DIY skate park would eventually face the possibility of demolition. However, no one could have predicted that the DIY park would become the largest in the Nordic countries and that the area would transform into such a vibrant and colorful focal point for local and communal subcultures.

No one that is, except people who understood the inherent importance of having a community center. If it's anything like the Venice skate park, the Pearl of Helsinki is a spot where older skaters can mentor younger ones, where at-risk youth might discover a passion that keeps them from depression, gangs, alcohol and drug abuse. Not to mention a freaking rad place of pride where people from all walks of life do sick tricks.

The campaign for the exhibition at Helsinki's Sanomatalo was created entirely in the DIY spirit, and the colors of the poster design were directly inspired by Suvilahti DIY. Street posters advertising the exhibition were spread around the streets of Helsinki and the social media videos have been filmed at iconic locations in Helsinki.

The exhibition illustrates why Suvilahti DIY is more than just a skatepark and why skateboarding is more than just riding a skateboard.

During the pandemic, our idiotic overlords decided that fresh air and sunshine were the worst possible thing for people to experience, and rather than encourage good health, they commanded everyone stay home. They went so far as to fill in the Venice skate park with sand. The community got together and shoveled all that sand out.

No doubt the skating community in Helsinki will do the same.

Agency: Studio Lauraéus

Exhibition Credits: 
Creative director: Keke Leppälä 
Art director & Graphic designer: Ale Lauraéus 
Copywriter: Pauliina Toivanen 
Producer: Keke Leppälä

Photographer & curator: 
Keke Leppälä

Exhibition sponsors: 
Concrete Proof, My Favorite Things, Pablo Films, Shreddington, Pelago Bicycles, HELride Collective, Happy Hour Skateboards, Studio Lauraéus, Jari Salo

Exhibition history timeline photos: 
Juuso Aalto, Tuukka Kaila, Sami Välikangas, Samu Karvonen, Mikko Kempas ja Keke Leppälä

Visiting artists: 
Olavi Salo 10 v. ja Iivari Salo 12 v.

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