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Cities / Finland / Regeneration

The Finnish New Wave

The Finnish New Wave

The Finnish New Wave – Event Details

Wednesday 19 March – Finnish New Waves

Helsinki Waterfront Regeneration

Wed 19 March Members Restaurant, Scottish Parliament 6-8pm

Speaker Heikki Mäntymäki, City Planning Helsinki.

Sponsored by Kezia Dugdale MSP

Chaired by journalist and NH Director Lesley Riddoch

The Background

It’s the remotest European capital city with the least winter daylight and the hardest to learn language – and yet Helsinki has some of Europe’s most satisfied residents. How do they do it?

Well it could be great city design. It could be the world’s best education system with the greatest use of public libraries. It could be because Helsinki council owns 66% of the land. It could be district heating for almost all. It could be having city beaches for Baltic midwinter dips. Or it could be because Finns are capable of taking big decisions.

Twenty years ago Helsinki decided to move its enormous port out of town. In 2008 the move was finally finished and 20 kilometres of prime waterfront land were freed up for housing. While Scottish cities consider one Waterfront regeneration proposal ambitious, Helsinki is currently masterminding five. Now planners have decided to urbanise suburbs to cope with population growth.

In short over the last two decades Helsinki has been undergoing the biggest construction boom and urban redesign in Finnish history. But there’s been relatively little disruption. And it’s not over yet. How did Helsinki Council do it, afford it and take city people with them?

Heikki Mäntymäki from the City Planning Department explains how private and public money have worked together to build housing and transport links, how all building designs are selected through open competition, how the council can plan ahead (there is no formal opposition and all parties have a share of power) and how the public has been involved throughout.


( The whole session, which lasted nearly 2 hours, was recorded. Here we have broken this into three separate sessions in the sequence of the meeting – The Finnish New Wave presentation by Heikki Mäntymäki followed by the Question and Answer Session and the last section which contains John Inman and some more audience questions. )

There was a large and comprehensive slide presentation which accompanied the talk.

Download the Finnish New Wave presentation here.

Vimeo Video Resources

If you want to see what prompted a lot of this meeting – watch this. A 15 minute film by NH Director Lesley Riddoch and webmeister Chris Smith gives a flavour of the Helsinki in December – Watch it here.

Soundcloud Podcasts

Here is the audio recording of Heikki Mäntymäki – Heikki talks along with his slide show – so you may want to follow along with the ‘Finnish New Wave’ presentation open at the same time.

You can download an audio recording of Heikki Mäntymäki here.

After the main presentation, there was an opportunity to ask questions and there was a lively exchange which was recorded. There was then a response from John Inman Development Planning Manager from Edinburgh City Council. John gave a ‘Scottish perspective’ and again there is an interesting set of audience interactions followed.

You can download the Finnish New Wave QandA here.

 You can download John Inman’s remarks and the Closing Questions here.

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