January 18, 2016

New Finnish districts develop a green perspective

In Vuores public transport, walking and cycling are emphasised by its traffic system plan, and management solutions control the LED lighting that illuminates streets and parks.
In Vuores public transport, walking and cycling are emphasised by its traffic system plan, and management solutions control the LED lighting that illuminates streets and parks.
City of Tampere / Vuores

While much of the buzz surrounding smart innovations focuses on emerging startups, Finnish cities are also rolling up their sleeves, creating a number of new districts that draw on ecologically sound approaches.

Cities around Finland have been smartening up in recent years, with Tampere in particular leading the way.

According to the Mayor of Tampere Anna-Kaisa Ikonen, smart cities bring together “technological expertise, digital services, sustainable development innovations, startups and growth companies.”

With this in mind the city is actively seeking new housing, transport and service solutions, with its enthusiasm for creating a smart future embodied by its landmark Vuores development.

“Today Vuores is the most rapidly growing urban quarter in Tampere,” explains project director Pertti Tamminen. “We are getting between 500-700 new inhabitants per year.”

Once completed in 2020, Vuores is set to house some 13 000 people and create thousands of workplaces.

Big changes

When Kalasatama city district in Helsinki is completed in the 2030s, it will house 20 000 residents, who are being encouraged to help create and trial smart solutions across all areas.

When Kalasatama city district in Helsinki is completed in the 2030s, it will house 20 000 residents, who are being encouraged to help create and trial smart solutions across all areas.

ALA Arkkitehdit Oy / Helsingin kaupunkisuunnitteluvirasto

Located some seven kilometres from the city centre, Vuores displays a number of innovative examples of eco-efficiency. Public transport, walking and cycling are emphasised by its traffic system plan, and management solutions control the LED lighting that illuminates streets and parks. Meanwhile, all of the buildings in the area have a built-in high-speed Internet network, ensuring Internet of Things connectivity.

Vuores’ waste management system also significantly reduces service traffic and emissions. After sorting their solid trash into four different categories, residents then transfer it to local waste inlets. The rubbish is stored here in 300-litre storage silos, where it is gradually broken down and reshaped, before being transferred to a collection point via a pneumatic pipe.

The new district also contains the largest modern wooden urban milieu in Finland, Isokuusi.

“The name translates to ‘big spruce’,” Tamminen explains. “It’s part of Vuores itself, but is a sub-centre as well.”

Here business premises are being constructed, alongside numerous wooden apartments and homes that will eventually house a total of 4 000 people. Innovative approaches to material efficiency, lifecycle planning, energy and power systems have been taken into consideration when creating this carbon-neutral space.

Energy shared

Smart energy is also a common theme embraced by other eco-sound developments around Finland. The energy system of Helsinki’s former harbour and waterfront industrial area Kalasatama, for example, is harnessing solar power. Altogether some 4 000 solar panels are to power up the smart grid, supporting electric vehicles, energy storage facilities and energy-efficient building automation.

When this new city district is completed in the 2030s, it will house 20 000 residents, who are being encouraged to help create and trial smart solutions across all areas.

Meanwhile, the largest new city district being built in the north of Finland, Hiukkavaara, similarly acts as a testing ground for energy-efficient schemes. Located just outside the city of Oulu, this new area will eventually house 20 000 new residents.

Artistic development

Interestingly, while ICT and new technologies are often swiftly incorporated in Finland, the innovations being implemented by new districts around the country are not only technical.

“Here in Finland there are also some new developments where the city has the precondition that every developer has to have artists in its planning team,” Tamminen observes. “In each building there must be some works of art. This gives a certain flavour to the built up environment.”

With this in mind, Finland is certainly perfecting the art of building a smart city.

Hiukkavaara acts as a testing ground for energy-efficient schemes. The new area will eventually house 20 000 new residents.

Hiukkavaara acts as a testing ground for energy-efficient schemes. The new area will eventually house 20 000 new residents.

Oulun kaupunki

Text: James O’Sullivan

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