Helsinki, Finland was the site of a benchmarking forum hosted by the Nordic Built Cities program on June 15th and 16th, 2016 which saw a group of over 200 individuals from urban development related businesses, research institutions, interested public organizations, and support organizations gather together to discuss the wide-reaching implications of shifts in social, environmental, and economic trends and what role urban development could play in overcoming these challenges. The two-day seminar consisted of a series of speeches from a variety of Nordic-region experts who offered enlightening perspectives on a wide range of issues relating to urban development in today’s challenging context.

Speakers at the seminar included architects, designers, city planners, as well as city and national government officials and public officers, who presented unique solutions to diverse urban challenges such as: balancing environmental sustainability, resource efficiency, and livability in urban infill construction; utilizing the efforts of engaged citizens in guiding public development; responding to climate challenges without sacrificing a city’s vitality; encouraging the formation of new sustainable modes of mobility; bringing green spaces and natural life to modern urban spaces; and ensuring that the city supports all of its residents through socially-aware development approaches. Structured as themed pairs—Likeability, Greener cities, Urban nature, Engaging citizens, Social sustainability—each of these sessions was followed by breakout conversations among small groups in the audience, fostering engaging discussion which brought forth a diverse mix of perspectives on the presentations that were condensed into golden rules by the groups and voted on by the seminar participants.

At the conclusion of the second day’s presentations, the seminar closed with the announcement of the winners of six, city-based challenge competitions hosted by the Nordic Built Cities program. The individual competitions, which sought creative solutions to urban challenges posed by the respective cities—Oslo, Norway; Espoo, Finland, its competition hosted by enterprise cooperative S-Group; Malmö, Sweden; Kópavogur, Iceland; Copenhagen, Denmark; and Runavik, Faroe Islands—selected one entry from among the received submissions which was deemed, by the appointed judges, to offer the most comprehensive and realistic solution. These winners—presented in detail at the Nordic Built Cites program’s website—will now go on to compete amongst each other for a Nordic-wide prize which awards a first prize of 500,000 NOK (€53,317), a second prize of 400,000 NOK (€42,660), and 300,000 NOK (€32,021). The country-wide competition winners will also be afforded an opportunity to develop their concepts further with the respective city officials in addition to receiving the benefit of widespread promotion and communication within the Nordic countries and beyond.

On the road to the selection of the Nordic winner ahead of the November 3rd, 2016 ceremony held in Copenhagen, the teams will develop their solutions further through active cooperation with the cities and explore the potential for realizing their plans in practice.

Read more about the challenge and its winners.

Read more about Finland’s winner Co-Op City, developed by B&M Architects, WSP Finland and Sweden, designer Päivi Raivio and Setlementtiasunnot Oy.

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Programs

Reframing City Districts (ReCiDi)

A research project conducted by the Universities of Turku and Tampere which aims to form a new conceptual framework which will help shape the collective identity and common vision necessary to realize the future low-carbon and sustainability targets.

Systemic Architectures for Sustainable Urban Innovation (SASUI)

An action learning and research project conducted by Aalto University and the University of Tampere which aimed to form a better understanding of the architectural requirements for successful innovation projects.

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