Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a Helsinki-based urbanist with a main professional interest in designing and supporting better public spaces through placemaking. My background is in design (BA) and I have worked as an employee and a freelancer in the urban planning field. After graduating as MA in Urban Studies and Planning with a thesis focusing on placemaking and public space experience, I am now joining Parkly team with a mission to improve urban spaces and experiences together with our clients and local communities.
Why did you become an urban designer?
Back in the day during my design studies and beyond, I have always wanted to work with urban challenges related to places, neighborhoods and cities. I love living in the city and I want to contribute to it also in my professional life. By combining my design skills with my knowledge in urban research, I feel I can make the most difference in my mission to improve urban environments for everyone.
What is your favorite city and why/what can we learn from it?
I have a special soft spot for the two very different cities I spent exchange semesters in: Budapest and Hong Kong. From Budapest, we can learn how restaurants and nightlife can make use of “leftover” public spaces and support amazing streetlife. From Hong Kong, we can learn how even hyper-dense urban environments can be designed in a way that creates enjoyable and highly diverse urban experiences on a pedestrian level.
How do you think placemaking can best contribute to urban development?
Placemaking emphasizes the needs and desires of local communities and empowers them to reshape their public spaces. In a world where so much attention is given to economic and technical matters, placemaking can help planners and designers pay attention to the softer side of urban life: experiencing places through senses, aesthetic sensibilities and communal activities. The official planning process comes to a close when a plan is implemented, but the process of placemaking is ever-evolving and continuous.
You recently wrote your master’s thesis for the University of Helsinki with a commission from the City of Helsinki. What would you say are the key learnings from your research?
My thesis explored two placemaking case studies through an ethnographic process in order to evaluate their effects on the spatial and aesthetic experiences of the public spaces in question. Among my main findings were that people in both studied Helsinki neighborhoods desired for more active and green public spaces, and that placemaking, along with adjacent research and participant observation, can produce very important place-based knowledge for urban planners that often lacks today.
Why Parkly? What are your expectations working in the Parkly-team?
I expect to put my hands in the dirt and get many chances to pour my passion for great places into making concrete improvements in everyday urban environments. Moreover, I get to do that not only with the local communities, but also with two like-minded designers whose pioneering placemaking work I’ve held in high regard for years, Päivi and Daniel!
Dream big! What does an ideal future city look and feel like?
My ideal future city is dense, lively and egalitarian. It is full of public spaces where you can enjoy life as a citizen, not only a customer. It is safe to walk and spend time in whether you are a small child, an elderly person or someone with disabilities. It is a place where lots is happening, you can be pleasantly surprised by what you encounter and where you will have unforgettable experiences that spark joy with you and your friends. It feels magical rather than mundane.