Cities in development
The role of cities as global players is growing, and decisions in cities are increasingly affecting people’s well-being. Urban Sprawl has come to a halt in many places, and cities are determined to develop into closer and more versatile units. High-density areas save land for natural environments and distances are shorter, reducing traffic. Similar developments can be seen in smaller communities, land use planning is more careful, areas are tightened, and services are brought closer together.
The second megatrend in urban planning is the changes in traffic. Alongside traditional traffic planning, there has been a rise in treating transport as a unified service. The service combines different modes of transport, such as public transport, transport services, short-haul vehicles, cycling and pedestrian traffic. New mobility services reduce private car use, reducing traffic and parking space. This together with robotic cars, will change the traffic landscape. Traffic volumes are reduced and routing is used more efficiently, which reduces congestion. The increase in pedestrians and cyclists will help to develop undisturbed and comfortable pedestrian centres.
People’s living habits are also changing. Consumption is becoming more and more conservative, which helps the adoption of a sustainable lifestyle. Goods are jointly owned or borrowed (sharing economy) and more attention is paid to the circulation of material. Waste becomes a recyclable material (circular economy) and what cannot be recycled is used efficiently for energy. Demographic transformation and the growth of the ageing population in Finland also present challenges to urban planning. Local communities must be more self-sufficient in terms of services and living in neighbourhoods. The urban structures separating housing and work are transformed and now serve a mix of functions.
Combating climate change
Climate change is also being tackled at the level of urban planning. The above-mentioned tightening of the urban structure and the reduction of traffic affect the urban carbon balance. Likewise, efficient circulation of materials reduces the carbon load produced by the waste. The energy economy of cities improves when buildings start to produce some of the energy they use themselves. Instead of centralized energy solutions, we are moving towards a decentralized solution based on the use of renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and geothermal and bioenergy.
There have been changes in the climate, as evidenced by extreme weather phenomena. Heavy rainfall has increased, and high temperatures have been measured. Water management has become an important part of community planning in terms of both storm water and flood waters. Green spaces and public places are already being planned from the water management perspective, which creates new solutions for urban planning.
We serve in urban planning
Urban planning trends are also reflected in our customers’ expectations. In our design, we strive to meet the challenges of the future in an appropriate way. Urban planning is done over a period of hundreds of years, so what we are now planning to do is affect the living conditions and environmental experiences of future generations.
Arno Stenbäck, Architect SAFA
Architects Soini & Horto Oy