The international expert group of Europa Nostra gave a press conference on 3 June 2016 at 11am at Malmi Airport, chosen in March as one of Europe’s Seven Most Endangered Cultural Heritage Sites 2016. The workgroup got acquainted with Malmi Airport and its situation upon visiting Finland on 2-3 June.
In addition to the three members of the expert group, the chairman of Europa Nostra Finland, Tapani Mustonen, and representatives of the Friends of Malmi Airport were present. In addition to the press, citizens and city councillors interested in the Airport’s future were among the audience.
According to architect Sara van Rompaey of the expert group, the airport buildings are of exceptional value on the international scale, and in line with cultural heritage laws of other European countries they should be protected in their full context and with the landscape, i.e. as an active airport. “Finland is worldwide recognized for its modernist architecture; this admiration should not be underestimated by Finland itself”, she said.
“Malmi is the best preserved of the three European airports that are left from the early days of aviation; its original structures are still there”, added Dr. Rienko Wilton, retired Ambassador of the Netherlands and Member of the International Jury of the 7 Most Endangered Cultural Heritage Sites Program.
The Chairman of Europa Nostra Norway, Mr. Erik Schultz considered it “rather surprising” that the significance of airports and the growth of the aviation sector are not recognized. With air traffic growing strongly, and most European capitals having several airports, Finland intends to close its capital’s secondary airport at a time when large airports grow more and more congested. “In the light of the recent terror attacks in Europe, closing down Malmi seems premature, a high-risk strategy”, Schultz said.
“We also noted that the General Plan is for the next 35 years based on a population growth rate that has never been realized for more than a few years at a time. We understand of course the need to plan residential building on a long time scale, but the numbers given in the General Plan raise questions.”
The expert group also took to the air over the city to get an idea of the building land situation. Among others, the slow development of the huge Östersundom area was a surprise. “Taking the citizens’ strong support for keeping the airport also into account, the City should plan its residential construction in a way that would allow the airport to remain”, Dr. Wilton noted.
The expert group’s task is to offer technical advice, look into possible sources of funding and to mobilize support for the threatened sites. The findings and recommendations of the group will be published by the end of 2016. If needed, the group will make another visit to Finland next autumn.
Chairman, Europa Nostra Finland
Member of Europa Nostra Council
tel. +358 50 569 5704
Chairman, Friends of Malmi Airport
tel. +358 50 374 8371