Welcome to From Rurban to Urban – a blog about the past, present and future of Finnish cities and urban life.
My name is Timo Hämäläinen and this blog is my personal attempt to draw attention to the urban environment in Finland. I have a background in Planning Geography from the University of Helsinki (MSc in 2010) and European Urban Cultures (POLIS), a joint program by select universities in Brussels, Tilburg, Manchester and Tallinn (Advanced MA in 2013). In the first programme I wrote my bachelor and master’s theses on urban sprawl in Finland, and in the latter I studied townhouse development in Helsinki and Stockholm.
My passions are greatly connected to the urban environment: Urban design, urban hikes, traveling and exploring new cities, the history of cities and the urban environment, and third places to name a few. In essence, I’m interested in the planning and development of cities as a cultural exercise, not as a technical one.
And a fundamental motive for me wanting to discuss the urban environment in Finland is that here cities are dominantly seen from that technical point of view. We love to discuss aspects of the city like traffic systems, technical details and dimensions of buildings, and recreational amenities, but never what our urban environment essentially looks and feels like or functions as a whole. We settle for what gets done.
I believe we should and could do so much better. Idealistically, I share a lot of views with the New Urbanist movement which I got acquainted with during a semester spent studying at San Diego State University. Our common concern is that during the past 60 years we’ve sadly lost just about all of our skill and vision to create urban spaces worth caring about.
The urban habitat is our future and we need to seek ways of making it as good as we can. I want to be a part of this process and this blog is a key element in my goal to try to make a difference. The blog is also a tool for me to explore our cities in greater detail.
I want to write in English, because I enjoy it and it also enables non-Finnish speakers to get some sense of what has been and is going on in urban Finland. I am not a native speaker, so please forgive all language mistakes you might (or already have) me(e)t.
Another key element for making a difference and helping cities become better places is through work. As of August 2014, I also offer consulting services and am open to interesting collaboration opportunities. Please read more here, all inquiries are warmly welcome!
Feel free to contact me if you just want to drop me a line or have a great suggestion what I should write about next!
All photos and writing are my own unless stated otherwise. The blog’s content may be used freely for non-commercial blog posting, forum posting and similar publishing platforms with proper crediting. Please contact me for commercial use permissions.
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The blog banner photo is by Joneikifi from Wikimedia Commons.