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Finns can only get better – 19 March 2014

Finns can only get better – 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

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.

A 15 minute film by NH Director Lesley Riddoch and webmeister Chris Smith gives a flavour of the Helsinki in December - Watch it here.

Places are free but must be reserved on Facebook or by email to Dan via We’ll confirm places via Facebook message or email (and let those who have registered too late know they’ve been unsuccessful). General info & new speakers will be posted on our Facebook page and website Please keep checking there rather than sending individual emails – NH is a small, self-administering, volunteer-based group with a list of new meetings to arrange. Thank you!

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