Tommi Melajoki is a freelance journalist from Helsinki, Finland. During the past decade Melajoki has written in various finnish magazines about his hometown's new phenomenons and upcoming trends. He describes Helsinki as a "vibrant little city in the breezy north Europe, chock full of interesting new design and talent, if one knows where to look".
New buildings and blocks are rising in Helsinki constantly. The economic growth of the last decade can be seen in new areas. The landscape of the city is changing but so are the equal opportunities for its tenants.
To some extent, city planning is at the mercy of the ideals of the big political parties of Helsinki. They acknowledge that there is a huge need for affordable housing, and
they are seriously worried about the upcoming retirement of the babyboomers. If the workers of the minimum wage sector can’t afford to live in Helsinki, there won’t be any decent services for the elderly in the future. And still, little is done to solve this problem. The rents in the metropolitan area have skyrocketed in the last few years. This will be a major political concern of the next decade.
Wouldn’t it be great if the voice of the citizens would be heard in the process of city planning, appearance and infrastructure-wise? Could this be provided in a modern democracy? One answer might be the concept of Wikiplanning. I had the pleasure of meeting the co-ordinator and the man behind the idea, Peter Tattersall, an architecture student from the Helsinki University of Technology, who is researching the subject in his master’s thesis.
“For years now, I’ve been thinking about how to solve this lack of democracy when the residents’ views and wishes concerning their surroundings are totally different from the architects’.
“I read an article about a political Wiki-party that was founded last year and I realized that the concept of Wiki-democracy could potentially apply to city planning,” Tattersall describes.
Shortly put, the concept of Wikiplanning is to let citizens get involved in the city planning process by utilizing workshops where the participants can plan entire boroughs using building blocks. The principle
is exactly the same as behind users editing the Wikipedia-dictionary on the Internet. Later on, the plans are introduced to city planners and architects.
The reception of the year-old project has been good so far. Tattersall’s workshops have been quite popular. Even some of the officials from the Department of City Planning in Helsinki have shown interest towards it, even though the initiative has come from the interaction developers, not the actual architects. This doesn’t come as a surprise to Tattersall.
“We can expect opposition from other architects, because it’s a direct infiltration to their area of expertise. They see city planning and architecture as very complicated matters, best left for the professionals,” he says.
Tattersall is currently aiming to move the whole project to the Internet, where this wiki-ed concept can evolve and be modeled virtually instead of using wooden building blocks.
Editorial , London
No. of comments - 1
Add comments | Read comments
Please enter above code:
Cannot read the code? Please click hereOR click on the image to reload.