Advantages of self-organisation in urban planning – local lessons of urban development in Helsinki metropolitan region

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The objective of urban planning has been to plan and design well-functioning urban environments. However, many urban problems are complicating this task (Christaller, 1933; Bettencourt and al., 2007) and the expanding scope and scale of problems have turned the latter into ´wicked` ones. Wicked problems are intricate by nature comprising several environmental and societal issues at the same time (Skaburskis, 2008; Weber and Khademian, 2008). There has been two ways to respond to wicked problems in urban planning. The first one has focused on the substance of planning, aiming at a better physical appearance and performance of urban functions. The second one has laid emphasis on the procedure; processes, their actors and the stages of planning. Unfortunately, the analysis of the current urban development of the Helsinki Metropolitan Region reveals severe defects in the application of both approaches. I will reflect in the following on the development of a Helsinki neighbourhood called Herttoniemi. As one of the oldest suburbs of the capital city, with a central location and good accessibility, it has followed the urban transformation of the Metropolitan Region and faced the problems and promises of urbanization: shortage of housing, required urban densification, and belt-tightening of public expenses which have transformed the neighbourhood. The population has increased up to 53 000 inhabitants during the past ten years, and the change will continue (Statistical Districts, 2014; Helsinki City Plan Draft, 2015). Herttoniemi can be regarded as the mirror of urban development in the Helsinki region in which the internal and external push and pull factors take turns, enabling and constraining one another.
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Definite Space – Fuzzy Responsibility, Prague, 13-16th July, 2015
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