Konepajan Bruno

A phone call to the Finnish Railways – that’s what it took to make an abandoned warehouse into a lively meeting place.  Two befriended photographers were fascinated by the empty warehouse and saw the potential it had to host events and attract public from the surrounding new development, strategically located next to trending Kallio and Vallila, home to many creatives. Not surprisingly, they embraced the initiative of Jakke Nikkarinen and Ilkka Lauri quite quickly.

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Konepajan Bruno opened in 2014 with a weekly flea market. Before this was hosted in one of the buildings that was torn down to make place for a new housing project. On top of that they hosted events such as the start up fest Slush. The 2 photographers also made their own office, stock and shooting studio in the industrial building.

2016 was the breakthrough summer for Konepajan Bruno. This was the first summer that they had an outdoor terrace and concerts, but also a barbershop, yoga classes,… The place is now very much in fashion with companies to organise their activities there.

The rent is high – a little below market price – because of the enormous size. And on top of that the project asks a lot of energy and dedication. There is a team of volunteers that does the programmation. Recently, they hired their first staff member.

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What about the temporality of this project? Even though the initiators reached a quick settlement with the Finnish Railways, this company sticked to the plan to sell its land to the highest bidder. Therefore, Konepajan Bruno is on 6 months’ notice contract. The relationship with the Railways company got tense because of disputes on their outdoor terrace. This Finnish Railways Company is not used of dealing with this kind of activities. Their main goal with this temporary project is to secure the building from negative side effects of vacancy. But they preferer to be on the safe side, not to take risks.

Recently, the Finnish Railways announced that they had received a proper offer to sell the land. Konepajan Bruno organised a Facebook petition with 13.000 likes and obtained support from pres and public opinion. The plans were cancelled.

Now, the two founders even dream aloud of buying the place themselves, together with 10 to 15 surrounding companies. From temporary over transitional to permanent use, who knows.

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For more info, take a look at Konepajan Bruno’s website or Facebook page.

Blogpost by Ariana Tabaku, City of Ghent
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