Nordicum - Real Estate Annual Finland 2014 - Page 21

Photo: Helsinki City Planning Department / Helin & Co Architects often dismissed as “satellites” of the big city, now the value and potential of the surrounding communities is recognised better. Ristimäki says that it is very important to establish how land use and transport systems should be reconciled in urban areas, peri-urban areas as well as in rural areas, in order to render communities more sustainable. Sustainability means creating a smooth environment for our daily life, which benefits residents, trade and industry – and nature. In fact, according to Ristimäki, one of the most significant planning challenges in recent years has been the integration of land use and transport. The harmful and beneficial effects of different planning solutions are not always sufficiently analysed, he believes. Feed the Growth Mika Ristimäki notes that in Finland, the problem very often involves the differing interests of the municipalities – while the local politicians keep arguing, the urban region fails to live up to its full potential. He is in favour of a concept which identifies “growth corridors” between communities and focuses development efforts there. But isn’t that what everybody is after, anyway? - Ristimäki replies by saying that regrettably, there are many communities in the works that are simply far too removed from the city centre and the services. “Existing assets should be utilised much better than is the case presently.” The research conducted by Ristimäki and his colleagues has revealed many projects which rely heavily on private car use and only add to urban congestion. “The city has the power to raise these communities in the wrong places and then they expect the government to come quickly and build new roads when the old ones simply don’t do it anymore,” Ristimäki says. Motor City No More? have the power to get the creative juices flowing. “But moving out to the suburbs, it’s all about making the every-day life as smooth as possible. And when there are no major bumps in the road that is good for innovation, too.” Striking Distance The wild card in all of this may well be periurbanisation which is Ristimäki’s special area of expertise, having spent six years of his career making the rounds in European “fringe communities”. “It is a fact that the most intense development at the moment is coming from this area,” he believes. While Is the “Age of the Automobile” slowly drawing to a close then? Ristimäki says that cars still have their uses, but with regards to retail, for example, it’s not motorisation that is calling the shots anymore. While previously huge shopping centres could be planted on remote fields and the consumers would soon drive over there – armed with plenty of gas and purchasing power – the big retail units are not in fashion anymore. “We see the appeal of big retail units located on the fringe decreasing, and the focus turns to the city’s internal service network,” Ristimäki says, adding that the new optimal retail units are smaller, but still wellequipped for every-day needs – and they are conveniently located as to welcome also pedestrian and cyclist patrons. Shopping, in a sense, is going back to its roots: close to where the consumers live their lives. “Stores need to be just a small drive away and, more and more, these stores are centres for on-line shopping which keeps on getting stronger.” Rise of the Senior City SYKE’s research has exposed other areas of no small significance as well. One global megatrend which is especially potent in Finland is the ageing population. Results indicate that over 74-year-olds are looking to live in city centres and subcentres – and in some subcentres in the Tampere urban region, for instance, those aged over 74 already constitute up to one-quarter of the inhabitants. “For the time being, this change in age structure has not been sufficiently taken into account in the planning of urban regions,” Ristimäki