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Finnish Architectural Review 3/2015: The small-scale city

The newest issue of the Finnish Architectural Review discusses small scale especially within the framework of urban housing.  Professor Hannu Huttunen highlights an alternative to tall and big which have in recent years dominated the debate about the Finnish city. According to Huttunen, a vibrant city can grow also at a small scale.

For example, in the metropolis of London, one finds, as a counter balance to the large buildings and main streets, a small-scale city, mostly three-storeys high, where housing, local shops and street life merge together naturally. In Helsinki, too, there are old city districts, such as Vallila, with a mix of the large and small scale. Huttunen argues that we should rediscover this long lost small-scale urbanness. The housing supply should be diversified. “Working on the small scale always seems difficult in Finland and requires a strong political will,” writes Huttunen. He states that, on the basis of research, it can be argued that the small-scale city will certainly attract residents if it can only find those agents who believe in it.

In Berlin urban housing solutions have been developed actively and over a long period, and there are many different housing types in use. Living in the city is a popular choice, and housing costs are lower than in Helsinki. Architect Pia Ilonen presents schemes recently built in Berlin. In her opinion, locations for small-scale urban developments should be found also in the centre of Finnish cities.

The issue also features an overview of the development of ecological low-rise housing in Finland. Further, there is a review of a recent book by Sirkkaliisa and Jari Jetsonen – Saarinen Houses (Princeton University Press, 2014) – which presents private houses from the first half of the 20th century designed by Eliel Saarinen and Eero Saarinen. The Finnish Architectural Review 3/2015 also presents examples of recently completed residential architecture around Finland by e.g. SARC, Sanaksenaho Architects, Avanto Architects, SIGGE, and architects Marco Casagrande, Antti Ahlava, Käpy and Simo Paavilainen, Teemu Hirvilammi and Olavi Koponen.

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