Aalto Main Street: turning Otaniemi campus area into a lively, shared street space

’Aaltoscape’, Kerttu Kaisanlahti / Aalto University
One of the course works was Aalto University master student Kerttu Kaisanlahti's ’Aaltoscape’. It is a collaborative approach in which gardeners and architects help students to cultivate a ‘green spine’ through campus and onwards to Helsinki.


Imagine a typical city street: it’s probably lined with parking spots, and the rest of the road is devoted to traffic, mainly cars. Actually, when you come to think of it, this kind of an environment is no street — it’s just a road. Could city streets and city areas in general be more optimized considering the needs of humans and nature? Could we turn an inhuman traffic area into a lively, shared street space that supports community building? And how would this kind of planning play out on a University campus milieu?

The Aalto Department of Architecture together with the Royal College of Art London and its Service Design Programme delved into these questions in a multidisciplinary joint studio course for master level students. The project “Aalto Main Street: City as a Service” aimed at redefining public space and creating an active and full of life street area in the core of Otaniemi Campus. The instructors were professor Antti Ahlava from Aalto and doctor and design strategist Nicolás Rebolledo from the Royal College of Art.  


‘New activities’, Meng Xu / Aalto University
Aalto University student Meng Xu's concept design attempts to keep the campus active throughout the year, even in vacation times.

The focus was on both the physical campus area as well as the services that can be provided for students, staff, and residents in the suburban Otaniemi area. The project delivered several experimental designs for shared space. In them, people can play an active role and interact with their friends and neighbors, the University and other organisations, nature and greeneries as well as the wider city. In these visions street space is not for cars but instead for cultivating plants and vegetables, for sports and hobbies, for holding street parties, hosting cultural events and meetings, for bumping into friends or just hanging around. These kinds of shared space solutions could attract various kinds of people to the campus area and support the overall wellbeing of students, staff and the inhabitants of Otaniemi.

‘Aalto Cultural Fund’, Valeska Noemi Mangel, Kristof van der Fluit & Benedetta Locatelli / Royal College of Art
‘Aalto Cultural Fund’, Valeska Noemi Mangel, Kristof van der Fluit & Benedetta Locatelli / Royal College of Art. The model enables communities to participate in democratic fiscal spending, and support ‘artists-in-residence’ — boosting culture on campus.

And what’s best, later on, in collaboration with ACRE Campus and Real Estate, the project will be set on march into reality.

For more information:
Professor Antti Ahlava, Department of Architecture
[email protected]

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