How the voice of young people is heard in city planning in Espoo

6.2.2023 8.05
A young person from the Arkki School of Architecture presents ideas for Kulttuuriaukio Square in Tapiola.
Photo: Arkki School of Architecture

Espoo City Planning continuously tests ways of taking the views of children and young people into account in city planning. During 2022, thoughts of more than 300 children and young people in Espoo on the future of the city were recorded.

In the spring of 2022, cooperation was started in Espoo between city planners and children in the School of Architecture. In the summer, 16–23-year-old Espoo residents were interviewed about their relationship with their urban environment, and the results were compiled into a series of interviews on the city’s social media channels. During the autumn, children’s and young people’s ideas on the future were collected to support the work of the new master plan.

Tuuli Aaltio, Interaction Specialist at the City Planning Department, highlights two reasons why it is important to take children and young people into account when planning the city:

“Issues that are important to children and young people can easily be left aside in planning if they are not specifically asked. An adult planner does not see the city through the eyes of a child, even if they try their best. It is also important to remember that city planning creates the future. For example, the master plan aimed at 40 years from now will have the strongest impact on the lives of those in Espoo who are now children and young people.”

In 2020, more than 2,500 children and young people marked on the map everyday places and routes in Espoo that were important to them. The effort made in cooperation with schools was part of the extensive My Espoo on the Map survey. In 2022, the study of this significant material was continued in a master’s thesis on the activity spaces of children and young people in Espoo.

Read more about the different ways in which children and young people participated in city planning in Espoo in 2022.

A young person from the Arkki School of Architecture presents ideas for Kulttuuriaukio Square in Tapiola.Photo: Arkki School of Architecture

Students of the Arkki School of Architecture worked on topical plan designs

The Arkki School of Architecture for Children and Youth offers basic architecture education for children and young people aged 4–19 in Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa. One of their offices is located in Tapiola, and another one in Muurala, Central Espoo.

In the summer on 2022, Arkki and the Espoo City Planning Department collected children’s and young people’s ideas about what the new Kulttuuriaukio Square in Tapiola could be like. The ideas collected from children emphasised functionality in particular, whereas the ideas collected from young people highlighted urban greenspaces and places for hanging out.

In the autumn of 2022, Arkki students explored the Kaupunginkallionrinne plan, which is in its early stages. They examined what kind of housing and nature trails they thought would be best suited to the area.

During the year, the cooperation helped reach about 60 children and young people studying at Arkki. In both experiments, the student groups were sent a video assignment, on the basis of which they worked under the guidance of Arkki teachers. The children’s work will be analyzed in Espoo City Planning and, where possible, taken into account in further work on the plans.

Read more about what Arkki students thought about Kulttuuriaukio Square in Tapiola

In the interviews, more than ten young people shared their thoughts on city planning and their own relationship with their immediate surroundings.Photo: City of Espoo and the young interviewers.

Interview series brought together young people’s thoughts on city planning

In the summer of 2022, the City Planning Department hired four young people from Espoo for a temporary job for three days. First, the young people were interviewed about their perceptions of city planning, how they experience their own environment and how they would like to influence it.

Next, the young people were given the task of conducting the same interview with two or three young people from Espoo who they knew. Together with the young people, the interviews were worked up into a series of stories that were published on the City of Espoo’s social media. At the same time, the young people hired for a temporary job were introduced to the secrets of city planning and the work of an architect.

The aim of the summer project was to collect information through interviews about what young people think about their urban environment and how they would like to participate in its planning. At the same time, the aim was to increase the knowledge of the interviewed young people and those close to them about how they can participate in and influence the planning of the city.

Read all the interviews in the “Young people’s thoughts on city planning” series (Only in Finnish)

Children drew their dreams of future Espoo at resident events related to the master plan.Photo: Espoon kaupunki

Children’s and young people’s ideas on the future were collected to support master planning work

Master planning work in Espoo aims far into the future, to 2060. Therefore, when work on the new master plan was launched, the city wanted to experiment with new ways of participating that are based on future thinking.

The City Planning Department organized a future workshop for young people applying Sitra’s Futures Frequency method. The workshop was carried out in cooperation with Kaitaan lukio upper secondary school in October 2022, and it was attended by just under 30 young people.

The results showed that young people are largely thinking about the same city planning themes as adults. Young people were interested in local nature and worried about climate change. They hoped that services would be close by and considered transport connections to hobbies to be important. In libraries, they wanted more quiet study rooms. The expansion of the West Metro was mainly seen as a good thing.

The views of the young people have been compiled for the planners, and they were also utilized in the future workshop organized for the decision-makers of the City of Espoo, in which the objectives of the master plan were discussed. Later in the autumn, about 100 young people from Kaitaan lukio upper secondary school participated in the Master Plan 2060 quick survey, the results of which were used in the preparation of the master plan objectives.

In October–November, two public events related to the master plan were also organized in Espoo libraries. Both included a children’s drawing workshop about the Espoo of future dreams, which was attended by a total of about 120 children. The drawings will be analyzed, and the themes arising from them will be utilized in master planning work.

Read more about the interaction work related to the new master plan

Read more about the series of future workshops organized by the City Planning Department

  • Zoning
  • Master plan 2060