Abstracts (Day 2)

Workshop programme
Abstracts (Day 3)
Logistical and sociable advice

Ojala: Infilling practices and environmental impacts on private gardens in Helsinki Metropolitan Area
Andersson: Private Green Space in Stockholm – internal qualities and landscape connections
Lipsanen: Green space and immigrants in Helsinki and Vantaa
Talja: The citizen and the development of green space: Helsinki during the postwar decades
Robinson: Contested Spaces: Alcohol Consumption and Regulation in Brighton and Hanko
Tritsmans: In Antwerp, the birds cough in the morning
Nolin: Women landscape architects and urban space
Hannikainen: Classification of Green Spaces in Helsinki and Vantaa
Fendt: From functionalism to sustainability: concepts of urban green spaces in post-war Germany
Gulin Zrnic: Green, green grass of home: socialist and postsocialist green spaces in Zagreb
Pinol: Green spaces in Paris 1750-2010: between city planning and urban renewal

Infilling practices and environmental impacts on private gardens in Helsinki Metropolitan Area

Anna Ojala
University of Helsinki

National aims for consolidating urban community structure include infilling practices, where new complementary housing is situated within or close to existing infrastructure. Residential areas are major component of the city, and in Finland, much of these areas are comprised of low-rise housing areas. At present, there are over 81 000 detached houses with associated gardens and yards in Helsinki Metropolitan Area (HMA), and the potential of these private green spaces providing ecosystem services and supporting urban biodiversity should be acknowledged in urban planning. However, gardens have been to a large extent ignored by city planners and there is a lack of ecological research done in these environments. Set against this background, this study aims to fill this research gap. In this presentation, the results from the research done in 2011 and from the ongoing study are presented. The main study methods were literature reviews and conducting semi-structured interviews with the planning authorities of three cities. In addition, the infill process during last decades was studied from maps and detailed plans from two residential case study areas (Paloheinä in Helsinki and Ylästö in Vantaa). The main research questions were:

  1. What policies have cities had and continue to have related to infilling practices, particularly in detached house areas? What kind of infilling has taken place?
  2. What is the extent of garden land in Ylästö and Paloheinä? How much of the garden and yard lands are lost due to plot subdivisions in the Ylästö case study area during 1998-2009?
  3. What kind of environmental impacts does the infill process have on private domestic gardens?

Results from literature review and interviews with the city planners
According to the interviewees, reasoning for infill practices has reflected ecological values and sustainable development starting from the 1990s. For example, the opportunity to spare larger areas of nature outside the residential areas and promoting public transportation were mentioned as important motives. In HMA, the growing urban population implies great pressure on housing production: besides developing new housing areas, the densification of established detached house areas is considered necessary by the cities – already from the 1970s onwards. The consolidation of residential areas includes infilling practices such as increasing the permitted building volume of the area and expanding the existing area by zoning new residential plots. In practice, the infill process is guided by the local and detailed plans of the city. However, because of the private ownership of the land, the city may have little control over the timing and extent of the infill process in established detached house areas.

Case study: infill development in Ylästö and Paloheinä
In 1970s, both detached house areas, Ylästö and Paloheinä, were seen as suitable areas for infill development by the growing cities. However, in the present townscapes the results of these compaction processes are quite different. Important reasons for this are the differences in the areas’ housing and planning histories, and particularly in their detailed planning regulations considering the allowed housing types. Paloheinä represents an example of special, but a common type of detached house area in Finland (so called veteran’s housing area). The whole area of Paloheinä was constructed quickly after the Second World War (1947) for housing Finnish immigrants and war veterans. The residential plots were in general large (1000-2000 m2) with spacious gardens allowing e.g. small-scaled food production. Ylästö, on the other hand, has a long housing history, as it has been inhabited already from the 15th century. It has been rural environment, and there are still old village areas existing. Thus, the housing development of Ylästö area has been more gradual and mosaic-like as the residents have been selling their lands at different times.

The town planning of Paloheinä and Ylästö aimed at achieving more dwellings to the areas. The planning process involved also local residents. In Paloheinä’s detailed plan, the plot efficiency number, which expresses the permitted building volume relative to surface area of the plot, was raised from 0.2 to 0.3. The detailed plan allowed also the construction of row houses and attached houses to the area. The drawing of the detailed plan of Ylästö was based among other things on the partial local master plan (1976) and the stated objective of this plan was to enable a more efficient land use in the area (0.3), and to get sufficient number of residents to justify various services. However, in the detailed plan, the housing density is generally 0.15-0.25. The stated goals of the detailed plan were 1) to preserve the original detached house identity of the area, 2) to maintain the green corridors between nature areas and 3) to expand the housing area on the lands owned by the city. Therefore, the area efficiency remained slightly lower than targets stated. It seems that in Paloheinä, the infill was considered so important that the rather dramatic change of the character of the area was accepted with e.g. row house construction, whereas in Ylästö the identity of the area with detached and semi-detached houses was preserved. In addition, in Ylästö there was still unbuilt land which allowed the expansion of the residential area.

In order to further examine the scale of changes to garden and yard areas, the extent of garden lands was mapped and measured in Ylästö (~ 44 ha) by using Geographical Information System (GIS) methods tested in the pilot study area of Paloheinä. The change in the garden land cover in Ylästö’s residential plots was quantified by comparing aerial photographs (1998 and 2009). In 1998, Ylästö had 115 residential plots with a total of 18 ha garden land (representing 72 % of the total area used for housing). As a result of housing development and plot subdivisions, in 2009 there were 274 plots with a total of 21.5 ha garden land (50% of the total area used for housing). Thus, new gardens were created to this area e.g. from former field areas. However, the gardens were in general smaller in size than the ones already established in the area. Since 1998 there have been 37 plot divisions in Ylästö. The plots have been divided into 2-5 smaller plots, resulting in 56 new plots by the year 2009. In total, 3.4 ha of the previous garden land has been lost during 1998-2009 and this is a 39 % reduction to the situation 11 years ago.

Private gardens as a part of urban green space
When the existing plots are divided, the remaining gardens and newly created garden lands are naturally smaller in size and the habitats within them are getting more fragmented. This can have local ecological and environmental impacts as the amount and internal make-up of green areas determines for example the ecosystem processes such as stormwater run-off and microclimate regulation. Larger gardens tend to provide more resources for biota, including a broad range of plant species and vegetation structures. Especially the abundance and cover of trees are considered to be important habitat elements for insect species diversity and abundance and for bird species richness. Gardens can provide nesting sites for several species, including beneficial pollinators such as bumblebees.

Overall, private gardens are unique habitats where the management choices and preferences of the individual owners play a very important role, particularly when considering the possibilities of these environments to support urban biodiversity. In city planning, private gardens should be considered from different spatial scales and perspectives. One useful planning concept could be “ecological land-use complementation”, where e.g. urban gardens are clustered adjacent to other green spaces (e.g. forest patches or crop fields) by zoning for the support of local ecosystem services and wildlife (Colding 2007). Private gardens form an essential part of the wider urban green space network, and taking this aspect into account in detailed plans is a useful approach. This was seen also in the detailed plan of Ylästö, where the stated goals included the preservation of green corridors between nature areas.

Private Green Space in Stockholm – internal qualities and landscape connections

Erik Andersson

Continued urbanisation and expansion of cities coupled with a desire to still be able to enjoy ecosystem services locally call for a deeper understanding of the role of urban form and its influence on ecological characteristics. Ecological concerns should not be limited to green structures like reserves, parks or green belts but be brought into all parts of our cities.

Private green space makes a considerable contribution to Stockholm’s green infrastructure, though the exact nature of this contribution depends much on management and internal qualities. Superficially similar land-uses may have significantly different ecological profiles due to both landscape configuration and context, and different social drivers. We have demonstrated how local management practices and their underlying social mechanisms, i.e., institutions, local ecological knowledge, and a sense of place may influence functional diversity and thereby also ecosystem services. Looking at different formal and informal managers, we found the informal managers to be the most motivated, which was also reflected in their deeper knowledge and can be explained by a sense of place and management institutions.

Different areas fill different functions in an urban landscape, and to different segments of the citizens. Understanding the potential supply of ecosystem services in cities is only half an answer, the second half is making sure they are accessible. Beyond the local scale, landscape context and ecologically complementary land-uses may have a strong influence on where in a city you will find different ecosystem services. Edges and spill-over are often associated with negative effects, not least in cities, but careful planning can instead draw on the potential for positive interactions. For example, a patch with good nest sites for pollinators will have a positive effect on pollination in its surroundings. Based on empirical findings as well as theory we suggest a complementary approach to managing biodiversity in urban landscapes – instead of maximizing the value and quality of individual patches, efforts could go into enhancing over-all landscape quality at the neighbourhood.

Green space and immigrants in Helsinki and Vantaa

Niko Lipsanen
University of Helsinki

Immigrants from different backgrounds use urban green and open spaces in different ways. Russian immigrants, or at least many of them, are heavy users of parks and green space. Immigrants from Africa and Middle East, on the other hand, generally do not use parks for leisure. When they do, they prefer centrally located open squares, in some cases also parks, where they can meet their peers living in other parts of the Helsinki Capital Region. They are thus dependent on the open spaces at good locations as they usually don’t have their own cars and are often not very interested in the local green space in the neighbourhoods where they live. Most popular meeting sites are in Helsinki. Hence those living elsewhere in the Capital Region complain on having to pay higher regional tariff in public transportation to reach them.

Immigrants from East and Southeast Asia are most keen to use green spaces to something useful such as fishing, gardening at allotment gardens, or working with a laptop in the park. Fishing and gardening are popular also among the Russian speaking immigrants. Having a dog is one of the main reasons to go to a park for both immigrants and native Finns. Part of the differences in green space use are thus explained by the dog ownership: Russians often have dogs while it is rather rare among the non-European immigrants. Moreover, some immigrants in suburban neighbourhoods may even avoid going to parks if they are afraid that there are unattached dogs.

Having a Finnish spouse increases the use of parks among non-European immigrants. Also, many immigrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East have told that their use of green space has increased as they have lived longer in Finland. Newcomers tend to use the parks less although there are some exceptions.

The research is based both on observation at parks and other outdoor spaces and on interviews with immigrants. Research sites for observation were Ruoholahti, Eiranranta and Myllypuro in Helsinki and Hakunila in Vantaa. The interviews also included immigrants living elsewhere in the Helsinki Capital Region.

The citizen and the development of green space: Helsinki during the postwar decades

Suvi Talja
University of Helsinki

This paper analyses the role of citizens and associational life in the making of recreational spaces in suburban Helsinki during the postwar decades. The large annexations of new areas to Helsinki in 1946 and 1966 increased its land area more than five-fold and the city now had nearly 100 kilometres of shoreline. Most green space, usually in the form of woodlands, was owned by the municipality or the state and was open to use for skiing, orienteering, running, hiking or walking. Possibilities for swimming were hampered by the increasing water pollution, harbours taking over land areas, and the building of new residential areas further inland with often no accessible natural or built swimming environments. The postwar period in the urban histories of Helsinki is often depicted as that of the growing municipal sector, which also increased its importance in the planning and development of green space and recreational facilities. Municipal authorities did begin long-term recreational planning and building schemes from the late 1950s, but my intention here is to argue for the importance that associational life and the citizen activity still played in the development of suburban recreational spaces. This paper uses cases of associations such as neighbourhood-based sport clubs or residents’ associations who were active in building rudimentary recreational facilities, such as wooden recreation cabins, acting as the nuclei for skiing or orienteering competitions, and outdoor swimming pools. These were built by voluntary effort, but sometimes with financial support from the municipality or the state. Many of these established facilities, surrounded by public green spaces, have survived to this day despite the growth of built areas and densification policies put into practice by the city from the 1970s.

Contested Spaces: Alcohol Consumption and Regulation in Brighton and Hanko

Richard Robinson
University of Helsinki

In twenty-first century Europe and America urban green spaces are frequently at the forefront of debates on public alcohol use. Underage drinking, problem drinking and even social drinking have all been the subject of scrutiny and restrictions in cities’ parks and plazas. The driving force behind these concerns (besides anti-social or illegal behaviour) is the notion of these open spaces as integral to the civility of a city. However, opinion on how such spaces should be used and on their connection to alcohol consumption is far from unanimous, and it is this discordance that I will focus on in my presentation.

More specifically, I will consider how attitudes and problems relating to alcohol and green space have developed in England and Finland between the late nineteenth century (the period of my doctoral research) and the present day. I intend to do this in three stages, working outwards from the two towns at the centre of my study, Brighton (in England) and Hanko (in Finland). In respect of these seaside resorts, I will attempt to establish the extent to which green space was viewed as a positive substitute for drink or as a facilitator of its consumption.

Following on from this, I will analyse the subject matter more broadly, from a national perspective, as sources directly referencing alcohol and green space are not especially bountiful in Brighton and Hanko. In England as a whole, for example, inebriate reformatories and the leisure movement both saw green space as a healthy alternative to alcohol, whereas in Finland during the prohibition period (1919-1932) smugglers and brewers of moonshine (pirtu) were notoriously active in forests around urban areas.

Finally, I will transfer my attention to the present day, in order to compare and contrast the relationship between green space and drink in two different time periods. I shall discuss how far attitudes and government legislation have evolved in tandem in each country. Furthermore, I will consider whether the purpose and the behaviour of those who drink in public can be understood as being different from a century ago. Overall, this paper’s aim will be to demonstrate the contested nature and disputed interpretations inherent to the construction and regulation of public space in Finland and England.

In Antwerp, the birds cough in the morning

Bart Tritsmans
University of Antwerpen

The nineteen sixties suburban bliss and its effect on urban green space use, Antwerp 1958-1973.

The Mercer Quality of Living Survey and The Economist’s World’s Most Livable Cities Top 10, annual rankings of the world’s most liveable cities which attract extensive media coverage, both emphasize the relationship between liveability, sustainability and urban green spaces. The results of the first European Commission survey on the accessibility of urban green spaces were also very clear-cut: “Access to green space within cities has been found to benefit many aspects of health and wellbeing, enabling local residents to cope better with the stresses of living in large urban areas.”

The first decade of the twenty-first century is marked by an increased interest toward urban green space on all political levels, and the use and appreciation of urban green spaces from the perspective of different users is now more important to policymakers than ever. Although the vulnerability of urban green space had become undeniable after the Second World War, and city governments show an increasing concern with the deterioration of the liveability and the loss of green space in the city centre, the nineteen sixties and seventies mark the culmination point of the destruction and neglecting of urban green space.

Urban sprawl and the decay of inner cities caused people to flee the city and to move to the suburbs. As a result, the focus of green space and housing policy shifted from the city to the suburban area. In the same way, the scope of recent historical research on the nineteen sixties and seventies often still switches to suburbia. In this presentation, I will focus on green space in the inner city during the often overlooked period of the nineteen sixties, and more specifically on the conflicting views on the appropriate uses and types of green space from the perspective of the city officials on the one hand and the city dwellers, represented by action groups and residents’ associations on the other hand.

This case of urban green space in a time of urban flight and general aversion to the urban environment emphasizes the importance of urban green space as a microcosm of broader societal debates and as a project with broad social aspirations that forms a test case as well as a showroom for social innovations.

In the future, research on urban green space would, in my opinion, benefit from the exploration of new useful sources and a new (or further elaborated) focus on topics like:

  • The experience and use of green space by the inhabitants – and not only the intended use of official green spaces – but especially the contested use of urban green and the importance of unofficial green space that is improvised on empty land, city walls, etc.
  • Social injustice and urban green space – who has access to urban green (immigrants, underprivileged social groups, elder people, children, etc.).
  • The impact of urban green on the liveability of cities and the tensions between different
    actors like politicians, action groups, the media, private developers (!), etc.

Women landscape architects and urban space

Catharina Nolin

I am interested in discussing in what way women landscape architects were involved in designing urban space in Sweden in the mid-20th century. So far, the normative history of landscape architecture has been dominated by white male landscape architects. Women are hardly visible, especially not as designers. Urban parks in Sweden have usually been planned at the cities’ parks departments, by a city gardener and his staff, and they have been studied from this point of view too, as design emanating from a parks department. Until quite recently, women were not in leading positions here. On the other hand, several women landscape architects have designed residential areas, usually through their own companies. From the 1930s, the concept “house in park” was introduced, which among other things meant that the boundaries between residential areas and urban space became less stressed or even totally invisible. In some suburbs there was no other green space than the residential areas. With a widened definition of the concept urban park or green space, a concept that include the residential areas too, although privately managed, women landscape architects as designers of urban green space would become visible. I wonder if the subordination of women landscape architects in the history of gardens and designed landscapes also can be linked to how urban parks and green space have been defined.

The landscape architects Ulla Bodorff (1913–82), Inger Wedborn (1911–69) and Sylvia Gibson (1919–74) were responsible for a great number of housing projects in Stockholm, Uppsala, Eskilstuna etc from around 1940 and onwards, including garden layouts for blocks of flats and single-family houses as well as large-scale city planning and master plans with local centres. Modern housing in the suburbs is from a national perspective regarded as very important, but the landscape architecture has seldom been included in the evaluation. For a long time we have been attached to only one way of understanding and interpreting Modern landscape architecture, how it was supposed to work and what type of visual and rhetoric expressions it could have. It is my aim that I will be able to present other ways of interpreting and understanding Swedish Modern landscape architecture and housing projects as well as the role of women landscape architects in planning and designing residential areas by broadening the context and bringing forward a gendered perspective.

Classification of Green Spaces in Helsinki and Vantaa

Matti Hannikainen
University of Helsinki

Even today, green spaces cover extensive areas of both Helsinki and Vantaa, although built-up areas within both cities have increased substantially since the late 1960s. However, Helsinki and Vantaa have opted for different policies concerning planning their growth. The city of Helsinki has focused on densification as its principal land use policy whereas the city of Vantaa as a more rural by its character chose to allocate its land resources for detached housing in the 1970s and in the 1980s. Since the 1990s, the land use policy of Vantaa has been re-oriented towards densification of already built-up areas similarly to the policy of Helsinki. While policies of these two cities have focused on continuous growth of built up areas, what has happened to green spaces within their administrative areas? How have administrative bodies like the planning departments and the councils perceived green spaces? What have been their functions and role in Helsinki and in Vantaa between the 1970s and the early 2010s?

In my presentation, I explain development of land use in both cities by studying how green spaces have been defined in their master plans (for Helsinki in 1972, 1992, and 2002; for Vantaa in 1982, 1992, and 2007). In brief, the evidence shows that in planning terminology of both 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 local town plans. As growth of built-up 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 allocation for e.g. housing. While subsequent master plans of both cities have aimed at to preserve main recreational areas and routes, green network, there has not been any standard acreage for public green spaces. A crucial difference between Helsinki and Vantaa relates to ownership of green spaces. In Helsinki, the city owns almost all public green spaces, whereas in Vantaa, most of green spaces are privately owned. 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. Continuous loss of green spaces within these cities provokes a fundamental question on relationship between an urban dweller, a city, and nature in Finland. Why have majority of residents, as it seems, approved take over and reduction of their local green spaces?

From functionalism to sustainability: concepts of urban green spaces in post-war Germany

Martina Fendt

The way urban green spaces are perceived and dealt with is, among other influencing factors, shaped by underlying concepts of ‘nature’/ ‘environment’, the ‘garden’ and the ‘good and liveable city’. These ideas changed during history, following general changes and lines of development in society, including political, economic, cultural aspects. The concepts of urban green space were changing just as much, and so were green space policies, the status and relevance the subject was credited with, the budget this department was given by municipalities etc.

Perceptions always were differing, sometimes widely, between experts in the professional field of landscape architecture and planning on the one side and the general lay public, urban citizens who use green spaces according to their respective needs and wishes.

This paper will explore the development of concepts of green spaces in Germany from 1950 to present. Illustrated by examples of green space projects from German cities the changing conceptualizations of green space and urban nature shall be discussed, as they show in professional and non-professional debates on the subject.

Ideas on the subject have originated from different fields, which means not only and not necessarily landscape architects have introduced innovation to their field of practice. Architecture, urban design and the arts have been influencing the view on green spaces as well as contributions from environmental sciences, societal transformations etc.

There are different, sometimes conflicting strings of development which the paper attempts to describe and connect with external factors and interdependencies.

Green, green grass of home: socialist and postsocialist green spaces in Zagreb

Valentina Gulin Zrnic
Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research, Zagreb

Although the setting is not as picturesque as in Tom Jones’s song from which I have borrowed the title, the feeling of home-ness was significantly awaken in an urban neighborhood in Zagreb when part of the neighborhood’s green space was chosen to become a building lot. The very name of the neighborhood itself provokes the issue of green spaces: the name Travno is actually derived from Croatian word for grass (trava) depicting the most characteristic part – the park meadow in the center of the neighborhood. Saving that park as their “living room” was one of the main arguments of the inhabitants in the struggle to preserve it from construction. I will use this case study to open and discuss several issues. Firstly, it is the issue of socialist urban planning of green spaces in residential parts of the city as compared to “the production of space” in previous decades in terms of functionality and the ethos of green public spaces. Secondly, I will discuss the “alternative urbanization” – the one happening during the very usage of space in the everyday life, which does not exactly follow the planning rationale and construction: it is mostly evident in appropriation of space for leisure activities, gardening and in various “decorative” practices. Thirdly, changes of using and users of green space in the transitional 1990s will be presented since political, social and economic transformations brought to the fore some new habits, daily rhythms and feelings, as well as some new actors who confronted themselves over green spaces and turned them into a “contested space”, a locus through which some dominant themes of the current situation have been questioned and negotiated. The paper is based on the analysis of the town-planning material and on the interviews with architects and inhabitants following the relationship to and with green spaces in the second half of the 20th century, particularly taking into consideration the context of socialist period and postsocialist changes.

Green spaces in Paris 1750-2010: between city planning and urban renewal

Pinol, Jean Luc
Paris & Lyon

At the beginning of XXIth century, Green Spaces (not including cemeteries) in Paris represent something like 17% of the urban space. If we exclude very large Bois de Vincennes and Bois de Boulogne which are exterior to the city, the figures are about 6–7% of the urban space. By documenting the 688 green spaces of the Geographical Information System GIS of Atelier Parisien d’urbanisme (APUR), especially by specifying date of creation of the different green spaces, it could be shown that most of these green spaces were developped after the 1970′. It correspond very often to two trends : slum clearance on one part and closing of large equipments or factories on the second part. We are thinking for example at the closing of slaughterhouses in the 19th district or very large cars factory such as Citroën in the 15th district. At the same time, insalubrious zones, defined by local administration at the very end of the XIX th century, were revamped. Very often the creation of green spaces were privileged to air urban space.