Master planning requires long-term vision

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13.4.2023 10.08
The world has shown us how fast things can change; that is why city planning must be flexible as well. According to Ruusu, plans may be updated at a moment’s notice.

Master Planning Officer Ruusu Vilokkinen works in the development of Espoo – an ever-growing, international city with urban culture and services, well-functioning public transport and lush nature.

In 2022, Espoo launched a long-term master planning project: Espoo’s master plan 2060. Its purpose is to create a long-term strategic land use plan that steers city planning and enables construction. According to Master Planning Officer Ruusu Vilokkinen, master planning is like a complex puzzle where you have to coordinate aspects related to land use and transport while also taking into consideration the city’s climate goals. Ruusu was born and bred in Espoo. At school, she dreamt of becoming a volcano researcher, but the job prospects in the field looked bleak. Instead, she ended up studying planning geography. She graduated from the University of Helsinki in 2011 and has worked for the City of Espoo as a master planning officer since 2017. What fascinates her most about her work is how city planning affects the future.

“We have to look at the big picture and understand the causalities between different phenomena. So many things affect each other. I want to build a sustainable future and feel that my work matters,” Ruusu says.

Espoo’s natural environment is taken into account in planning

Espoo’s master plan provides guidelines for the city’s development all the way to 2060, when Ruusu, who is now working on the plan, will be 72 years old. However, she reveals that the current plan should be completed within five years.

“I have a long attention span and can handle large projects. Planning is based on current knowledge, but by the time I retire, the master plan will have been updated many times. At the moment, we are at the goal-setting stage, after which we will start preparing draft maps. At every stage, we will hold information events for residents, giving them a chance to ask questions.

“We agree with our residents on what makes a good city. However, the city’s growth also worries residents who are afraid that nature will have to give way to new construction.”

Ruusu says that the goal is an attractive and verdant urban environment with diverse services and vibrant pedestrian centres. Climate goals also require that the city take good care of its natural environment.

A team of 30 people works on Espoo’s master plan. The unit is part of the City Planning Department.

“Luckily, I get to work together with nice colleagues. We all have different skills. I find my work very motivating,” Ruusu says.

(This article was originally published in the City of Espoo staff magazine Espressi 1/2023. Text by Jaana Kalliokoski.)

The metro plays an important role in both city planning and commuting.
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