The Otaniemi area is changing in many respects. The city of Espoo decided to extend the Helsinki metro line into the west, to the Espoo side, and one of the stations will be in Otaniemi. The West Metro should start operating through the station named Aalto University in 2016. The coming of the metro entails further development in the area, increasing population and establishing new services.
The Aalto University decision to have its main campus in the Otaniemi area also means increasing development needs and changing spatial arrangements in the area. The freshmen of Aalto University’s previously Helsinki based establishments are soon all starting their studies in Otaniemi. Consequently, Aalto University will construct a new building, Väre, to host the School of Arts, Design and Architecture, in the center of Otaniemi. What is more, Aalto University aims to be the leading sustainable campus in 2020 which sets demands to the campus development as well.
The urban development research in Aalto Built Environment Lab (ABE) is rooted in the human centred approach and the tradition of participative planning. There are also some recent studies that form a starting point for ABE to develop a new approach to the urban planning process.
In the YTK Land Use Planning and Urban Studies Group based PEKA research project, it was concluded that the present tools for urban planning are struggling to meet their objectives. Also, Susa Eräranta’s master’s thesis raised the question of situation awareness of the planning process stakeholders. Her research showed that many city decision makers have fragmented view on the complex planning process. As there are several overlapping processes with complex interactions in urban planning today, this is perhaps no wonder. What is more, there are also many stakeholders with different views and interests.
In line with the human centred approach, ABE aims to solve these problems by bringing the different stakeholders together and facilitating an open discussion on their views and goals. The idea is to ensure all the stakeholders better awareness of the situation and help to establish common ground.