Classification of green spaces in Helsinki and Vantaa
by Matti Hannikainen
The evidence so far shows that in planning terminology of Helsinki and Vantaa, green space has not been clearly or coherently defined. It remains as a general concept compared to more precise terms like recreational areas or parks used both in master plans and town plans. As growth of built areas for commerce, housing, and transportation in both cities has continued to occupy areas referred as green spaces, it almost seems as if green spaces have been deliberately left undefined in order to accommodate their conversion to buildings.
Yet we need to remember that the aims of successive master plans of both cities has been preserving main recreational areas and routes, green network, but not to preserve any standard acreage or provision of public green spaces. Indeed, both cities have approved reduction of private green spaces and to certain extent even public green spaces as a way to preserve larger public green spaces within their administrative areas.
It would advisable for each city to conduct a survey of their green spaces and to establish a framework of adequate acreage for preservation and provision of public green spaces within their administrative areas. In addition, continuous loss of green spaces within cities provokes a fundamental question on relationship between an urban dweller, a city, and nature in Finland. Why do majority of residents, as it seems, approve take over and reduction of their local green spaces in cities?
Current research is continuing in two ways. First, I will study discussions of the councils of both Helsinki and Vantaa concerning their master plans as well as issues related to roles and uses of various green spaces. Secondly, I will interview planners (landscape architects) of Helsinki and Vantaa to find out how concept of green space has been and is implemented in their work.