In English

Artists envision Student Village of Murals

Miikka Rusi
Alette Grandell, Ruu Aho, Konsta Holma
  • ”Pines growing near the walls made me think how dependant people are of the ecosystem of the nature that surrounds us. After all, the mind is an ecosystem of a kind as well.”
  • Here's the same wall as it is now.

Wall murals are becoming increasingly common in Finland’s cityscape. Might we get some to the Student Village as well?

When the student village Yo-kylä was built in the 1970s, the architects who won the design contest wanted to emphasise the ’simplified beauty of the structures’, as were the ideals of structuralism at the time.

Therefore the village inhabitants are even today surrounded by the familiar grey concrete cubes, which do undeniably have their own attraction.

But many middle European cities have awakened to the problem of uniform and homogenous suburban housing. Therefore the ideals of modern city planning include originality, interactiveness and individuality in buildings and city spaces.

The solution is often found in a paint can.


LARGE-SCALE WALL paintings, or murals, have made their arrival to Finland’s cityscape with breathtaking speed. In the autumn of 2016 happened the first UPEA urban art festival, where artists created massive works in seven cities around the world.

Murals were also painted in Turku. To five buildings in Turku appeared large wall paintings, as part of the festival and the celebrations of 70 years of youth services in Turku.

According to Turku’s executive director of youth services Tatu Moisio, street art creates focal points that link the inhabitants to their environment in their home cities. Additionally, they create elements of surprise to familiar landscapes.

”Well-executed street art brings new viewpoints to city landscapes. New ideas can come from subject, colour scheme, or how the artwork interacts with the environment”, he describes.

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Alette Grandell: "I thought about how nature and city meet and how it affects our comfort. With the illustration I want to describe how a small art surprise in the city environment opens up the imagination and adds colour to everyday life.”


DURING WINTER, the city of Turku has put out questionnaires to find out how the city’s inhabitants react to the painted murals.

”The response has mostly been very positive, even though the mural as a concept has been new to many”, he says.

A few large wall murals have existed in Turku before last year as well. For example, the Rostock friendship city mural on Eskeli parking hall wall was painted in 1998, and the newer mural of Eerikinkatu 7 was painted in 2011.

Last year’s gigantic paintings can be seen in five different places: Ursininkatu, Kaskenkatu, Laivateollisuudenkatu, Lemminkäisenkatu and Luostarinkatu. Condemned houses have often received their share of decorating as well: Jukka Hakanen, an artist from Turku, has painted his vivid works onto many buildings condemned for demolition. The most well-known example of Hakanen’s work is probably Turun joutsen, Swan of Turku, that was painted near the Turku harbour in 2013 and was torn down in 2016.

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Ruu Aho: ”Walls and fences won’t stop us. I wanted to make a serious graffiti without machismo. The wussy troublemakers of the world, unite!


IN TURKU city’s beautification fund questionnaire, the inhabitants have been able to suggest possible locations for new artworks.

”Surprisingly many of the replies mentioned the student village or the campus area”, Moisio reveals.

The managing director of Turku Student Village Foundation Kalervo Haverinen finds the idea of a mural fascinating.

”I do have an open mind about a mural. The challenge would probably be finding an appropriate location – we would need to find a surface that would bring out the painting as well as possible.”

All in all, Haverinen thinks that adding public art to the student village is something to be encouraged.

”These kinds of things do make the area more lively, and art is well suited to the personality of the student village”, he summarises.


Gallup: Would murals be appropriate in Yo-kylä?

"I do like the idea. Something related to gaming might be appropriate here, since the gaming industry employs a lot of students."

Kalle Junell, Carpenter school

"Murals would suit well here, since they are often creative and colorful. A politically motivated work would be suitable to the student village" 

Inga Sahlberg, Education

"Murals would indeed be kind of cheering. A good subject might be for example nature, like a picture of that river."

Fanny Lindfors, Psychology

"I think they look great, and I would welcome works made by real artists. A good subject could be tolerance, world peace or nature – something that emphasises good values."

Saara Walle, Not a student