The changing harbor areas of Helsinki, 2009, ©City Survey Division

Bernd Upmeyer interviewed Rikhard Manninen on behalf of MONU. Manninen is the head of the Strategic Planning Division in the City Planning Department of Helsinki. He is in charge of long-term land-use planning in cooperation with other divisions such as the Traffic Planning Division. The interview took place in August 2013.

The “Greater Helsinki 2050 Vision” Competition

Bernd Upmeyer: The competition “Greater Helsinki 2050 Vision” was launched in 2008. What were the main reasons behind initiating this project?
Rikhard Manninen: By the mid-nineties, Greater Helsinki was considered one of the fastest growing metropolitan regions in Europe. Within 50 years, the region had doubled its population. The signs were that this trend was going to continue and that new development would continue at a fast pace. Construction of new housing was having difficulty keeping pace with demand. For example, in Helsinki, the average living space per inhabitant was 33m2 yet the Helsinki Development Plan of 2002 aimed for 50m2 per person. The launching of the international Ideas Competition for the Greater Helsinki Region aimed to provide the cities and neighboring municipalities with new and fresh ideas on how to tackle these challenges, as well as other important questions regarding sustainable and vibrant urban life and economics.

BU: But as far as I know the birth rate in Finland has been below the threshold of population renewal since 1969, which is approximately 2.1 children per woman. Today, Finland’s birthrate continues to decrease. In 2012, for example, Finnish women gave birth to an average of 1.80 children. However, plans such as the “Greater Helsinki 2050 Vision” predicted a population growth from 1.3 million to 2 million by the year 2050. Where should all these people come from?
RM: In 2012 the increase in population for the Helsinki Region was 17 000 inhabitants. This reflected Helsinki’s attractive position in Europe due to its high living standards, as well as being a very attractive place to live. Finland is part of Northern Europe and Helsinki represents a major growth centre that will probably be a growing “hub” in the future as well. Finland is experiencing greater urbanization pressures and society is going through major structural changes which aim to keep pace with the World Economy. Hence, Helsinki is able to attract people from abroad and also from the rest of the country. Change is still occurring from traditional manufacturing industries towards knowledge-based services and innovation-based industries and the Nordic Welfare culture recognizes this through high levels of education geared to supporting these changes. The agglomeration benefits from dense, populated centers that support specialization and create the most value added activities…

…the complete interview was published in MONU #19 on the topic of Greater Urbanism on October 14, 2013.

Title: Metropolitan Strategies
Project: Interview with Rikhard Manninen
Date: August 2013
Type: Commissioned interview
Topic: Greater Urbanism
Organizer: MONU
Status: Published
Publications: MONU #19, P.113-120
Interviewer: Bernd Upmeyer