History of the Arabia district


Birth of the block


The Arabia135 block’s journey to becoming a central part of Finland’s design and industrialisation history began with a small red-brick ceramics factory, marking the first of the Arabia ceramics factory’s buildings to appear on the deserted shore of the Gulf of Finland. The block still features some of the protected red-brick buildings from the era.


World’s biggest ceramics factory


The Arabia factory block developed and grew steadfastly in the early 1900s. Arabia’s visionary leader Carl-Gustaf Herlitz saw an opportunity in industrial design and by the end of the 1940s had grown the Arabia factory into the biggest ceramics factory in the world, its products being sold and shipped as far as Argentina.


Finnish ceramics take on the world


The global triumph of minimalist Finnish ceramics production began after WWII under the lead of Kaj Franck and Arabia’s design department. The ceramics factory’s continuous development and the modernisation of its production changed the entire block. Old, impractical buildings were demolished and new buildings that were better suited to industrial production were built in their stead.


School of Arts, Design and Architecture moves onto the block


The ceramics factory’s production was concentrated at the end of the 1970s in a new factory building, which meant new users were sought for the old and now empty premises. The School of Arts, Design and Architecture moved into Arabia’s old factory premises in 1984. This marked the start of a new and more diverse era for the block, as the factory and its employees were joined by schools, students and services.


Arabia Gallery brings design companies to the block


The completion of the new Arabia Gallery in the 2000s brought more design companies, offices and public services to the block. This launched the traditional factory block on a path to becoming the beating heart of a growing residential area.

2010s and 2020s

A new kind of creative block


The Arabia135 block’s journey from the 1870s to today has been a part of Finland’s design history. Along the way, buildings have been constructed, demolished, repaired and modernised for new users and to meet various needs. The story of the block continues, and its new history is being written now.

Source: Arabia – Hämeentie135: Rakennushistoriallinen selvitys 2015