Tapiola vs. Helsinki: modernizing the metropolitan image
Cities and towns -- Finland -- Growth -- Case studies Metropolitan areas -- Finland -- Case studies Suburbs -- Finland Πόλεις και κωμοπόλεις -- Φινλανδία -- Ανάπτυξη -- Περιπτωσιολογικές μελέτες Μητροπολιτικές περιοχές -- Φινλανδία -- Περιπτωσιολογικές μελέτες Προάστια -- Φινλανδία
The urban structure of Helsinki, the capital of Finland, started to grow outside its municipal borders in the early 20th century. After the Second World War in 1946 large areas were incorporated to the city and several small municipalities vanished from the surroundings. As a result of this governmental act, Helsinki (proper) quintupled its area to a (greater) Helsinki of over 160 square kilometers. The population grew from 276 000 to 341 000. The enlarged Helsinki city was surrounded by municipalities such as Vantaa, Espoo and Kauniainen. The area formed by these became known as the Capital Region mainly through the activities of the Helsinki Regional Planning Association (Helsingin ja sen ympäristön aluesuunnitelmaliitto) founded in 1947. My title refers to a period from the end of the Second World War to the end of the 1960s when Helsinki grew from a traditional center-oriented city to a modern region with several smaller suburbs. Tapiola was one of the first of these. In the field of architectural planning pre-war ideas or utopias of the urban metropolis changed to post-war decentralization, proposed, among others, by Eliel Saarinen in his book The City published in 1943. This progress can be seen as either the suburbanisation of Helsinki or the regionalisation of the capital. The post-war era was also a period of effective development in terms of legislation and planning organisations in Finland. Next I will follow the history of "Tapiola Garden City" as an example of these planning processes. Tapiola is located in the city of Espoo less than 10 km west of the Helsinki city center. During recent decades Espoo's municipal status has changed from rural commune, to market town in 1963, and finally to city in 1972. The planning of Tapiola started just after the Second World War and construction began in 1952. Tapiola can be described as the first modern suburb in the country since it was located some distance from the existing urban structure and built with the extensive use of multistory apartment buildings, one the most evident features of the 20th century urban landscape. With its three residential neighbourhoods and its community centre, Tapiola's plan was based on the Anglo-American hierarchical city concept of residential unit, neighbourhood unit and community, adopted in Finland by Otto-Iivari Meurman who had done preliminary plans for the area in 1945. Meurman, who was the first professor of city planning in the country, introduced the concept in his Textbook of City Planning Asemakaavaoppi in 1947.
Includes bibliographical references
Paper presented at Seventh International Conference on Urban History: European City in Comparative Perspective, Panteion University, Athens - Piraeus, Greece, 27-30 October 2004, Session: Identity Politics and the Construction of the Metropolitan Region: European and North American Perspectives