Nordic City Challenge 2017

In 2017, the Challenge brought together 24 highly motivated and talented students from the Nordic countries to solve a real-life planning case of Pasila area in Helsinki, Finland. The challenge was organized on Oct 30th – Nov 1st in Hanasaari – the Swedish-Finnish Cultural Centre in Espoo, Finland. See here for the detailed course description.

The students worked in five teams to come up with bold, innovative solutions embracing a social-ecological approach, which is a special focus of the Nordic City Challenge. This year the proposals were additionally asked to include visions of integrating urban art in the area, since art was chosen the main theme of the year’s Challenge.

All the groups succeeded in an impressive way to propose new views with open-minded and diverse visions of a social-ecological new Pasila, which was presented to become a participatory, well-connected, greener neigbourhood, surrounded by art. The jury had, again, difficulties in choosing the winner, and they wished they could have had only one proposal combining all the innovative ideas presented by the five teams. However, the winning team was finally described as having the most balanced approach, which was both bold and feasible and succeeded in bringing up the history of the area in the renewal process and outcome.

All the presentations were additionally exhibited in the information and exhibition space for the city of Helsinki Laituri for 4 weeks in November 2017.

The winning proposal: “Polku”

Members of the winning team were:

  • Eeva-Maija Ekman, Landscape Architecture, Aalto University
  • Thomas Rahbek, Global Health, University of Copenhagen
  • Aapo Markkula, Arts Management, Sibelius Academy, University of Arts
  • Madeleine Larsson, Social sciences, University of Gothenburg
  • Maria Viitanen, Spatial Planning & Transportation Engineering, Aalto University

Description of the winning proposal by the winning team:

“Pasila deserves better! Pasila is a diverse community without an opportunity to come together and express itself in the urban space. There is a stark disconnection between city and the nature. We are proposing a solution based on movement, connectivity and art.  Polku brings Finnish “luontopolku” nature path into the city. Pasila provides the elements of rough urban canvas and is a source of green in adjacent central park. The Polku takes people on a journey through nodes of meeting places manifesting the history and existing seeds of community in the area. In Pasila we plant a seed for new Finnish urban identity, a natural marriage between the nature and the city.  Pasila unites to build an identity through art, culture and entrepreneurial projects. The Polku connects east and west Pasila as well as nature and the city. Different geographical areas will be connected through culture pieces and historical landmarks. Art and nature are used as tools to educate the people within eco-sustainability, awareness and stimulate them to be active themselves. By monumentalizing iconic landmarks in Pasila, the Polku will renew and refresh the dated postcard image of Helsinki.”

Program for the Nordic City Challenge in Espoo, Hanaholmen 29.10.-1.11.2017

Sunday October 29thVenue: Kullager, 2nd floor

  • 15.00 Registration and networking: Getting to know each other, pitching skills, meeting your team mates, system-thinking and pentagonal problem tool
  • 16.30 Welcome to the Nordic City Challenge 2017 by the organizing committee:
    • Jonna Similä, NCC project Manager and Janne Wikström, HanaAcademy project Manager, Hanasaari – the Swedish-Finnish Cultural Centre
    • Meeri Karvinen, researcher, Coordinator of the Nordic Sustainable Campus Network (NSCN), Aalto University
    • Salla Jokela, postdoctoral researcher, Urban academy network, University of Helsinki
    • Katri-Liisa Pulkkinen, researcher, Aalto University School of Engineering
    • Sari Mertanen, Climate-KIC Pioneer, visiting expert trainee Catalina Vaage, NCC 2016 alumnae, University of Copenhagen
    • Jalmari Sarla, Pasila grassroot activist and Master student
  • 17.00-18.00 Inspirational talk and discussion: Inspirational systems change needed, Katri-Liisa Pulkkinen, researcher, Department of Built Environment, Aalto University School of Engineering
  • 18.00–19.00 Dinner at restaurant Johannes 19–22 (Opportunity to use the sauna)

Monday the 30th October

  • Until 8.00 Breakfast in restaurant Johannes, 2nd floor
  • 8.45 Transport from Hanasaari, meeting in the lobby
    Please take with you everything you need during the day (e.g. jacket, sneakers, laptop, notes).
  • 9.15-10.00 Case presentation: Elina Suonranta, City planning department, City of Helsinki, Laituri, Narinkka 2
  • 10.30-12.30 Visit to the case location: Jalmari Sarla, Pasila grassroot activist
  • 12.30 Lunch, Ravintola Ratakivi, Ratapihantie 11
  • 13.30 Walk to Allianssi house, Asemapäällikönkatu 1
  • 14.00 Meeting the stakeholders: Different perspectives to Pasila
    • Riikka Lahdensuo, Senior Adviser at City of Helsinki – Brand New Helsinki project
    • Petri Kangassalo, member of board of Directors, Dodo ry
    • Jalmari Sarla, Pasila grassroot activist and Master student
      Moderator: Salla Jokela, Urban Academy Network
  • 16.00 Transportation back to Hanasaari
  • 17.00-19.00 Case work start in own teams (coffee and fruits available 17-17.30),
    Group rooms: Kullager, Skiftnykel, Ultraljud, Tändsticka, Propeller
  • 19.00 Dinner and networking at restaurant Johannes
  • 20-22 (Sauna available, networking)

Tuesday the 31th October

  • From 7.00 until 8.25 Breakfast in restaurant Johannes, 2nd floor
  • 8.30 Inspirational talk: NCC 2016 experience, Planetary health and bridging Nature-Culture Divide creative examples, Catalina Vaage, NCC 2016 alumnae, University of Copenhagen, Venue: Kullager, 2nd floor
  • 9.30 Case work (tutoring available throughout the day) in the Group rooms
  • 10.30 Coffee and fruits available
  • 10-12.25 Case work continues
  • 12.30 Lunch
  • 13.00 Case work in teams continues
  • 15.00 Coffee break
    Case work continues
  • 17.45 Art statue opening (not compulsory), Prime Minister visit
  • 19.00 Dinner and networking at restaurant Johannes

Wednesday the 1st November

  • From 7.00 until 8.25 Breakfast in restaurant Johannes, (checkout until 12 am)
  • 8.30 Case work in teams
    Group rooms: Celsius, Skiftncykel, Ultraljud, Tändsticka, Propeller
    The teams hand in their work at 12 am at the latest, to: jonna.simila(at)
  • 12.00 Lunch
  • 12.45 Presentation of the case solutions: Opening words: Gunvor Kronman, CEO, Hanaholmen – the Swedish-Finnish cultural centre. Venue: Celsius
    • 12.55 Team presentations to jury and external guests, discussion and feedback. Case solutions presentation (15 min/group).
      Jury members:

      • Aino Kostiainen, programme Coordinator (Art and Culture), Hanasaari/Hanaholmen
      • Meri Löyttyniemi, Senior advisor, Sustainable Development, Aalto University
      • Sami Moisio, Professor of Spatial Planning and Policy, University of Helsinki
      • Jalmari Sarla, Pasila grassroot activist
      • Elina Suonranta, Architect, city planning department, city of Helsinki
  • 14.25 Coffee
  • 15.00 Award ceremony
  • 15.25 Group picture
  • 15.30 Reflection on the case work
  • 16.00 Snack available
  • 16.30 Goodbye – End of Nordic City Challenge 2017

Course materials 2017

The material for the pre-assignment will be sent to all the course participants by email.

Some background material for the intensive days and the case can be found below. The actual case will be published only in the beginning of the intensive days in Hanasaari, Finland.