Why Helsinki doesn't extend upwards?

Finnish Broadcasting Company: Why Helsinki doesn’t extend upwards?

Building extensions and additional floors

Published: 26/01/2017 00:00

Extensions to existing buildings are beginning to rise above the urban and industrial areas of Helsinki’s currently rather horizontal skyline. As The Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE reports, the number of extensions upward is still quite small – yet there is growing interest in the air.

The demand for housing in urban areas continues to grow globally. Today more than half of the world’s population is living in the cities, according to the UN’s The World’s Cities in 2016 report.

With limited availability of land and building plots, the most obvious way to increase housing is upwards, by building upon the existing fabric of the cities.

As part of its urban development Helsinki is clearly among those cities planning ahead – if not yet upwards, The Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE reports.

Extension building in Rakuunantie, Helsinki Rakuunantie, Helsinki: An additional storey with six new flats. More about the case.

Could today’s roofs be the building plots of tomorrow?

According to the City of Helsinki the total area of its roofs is about 3,500 hectares, which is twice as much as the area of its parks. The potential above the city is thus enormous: from green roofs, solar panels and loft building to additional floors.

Commenting to YLE, Annukka Lindroos, the Detailed Plan Architect at the Helsinki City Planning Department, says that historically, Helsinki’s building tradition has been very horizontal.

“It’s hard to imagine that there would be wow effects on every block,” Lindroos says. 

Architect Jari Lonka agrees with Helsinki’s policy of constructing tall buildings only in strictly delineated districts. On the other hand, he says, the horizontal nature of Helsinki doesn’t mean that many existing buildings couldn’t be raised. 

Wood architecture competition - L Architects: Plug-inPlug-In design, by Lonka's team at L Architects, took part in Metsä Wood's City Above the City design competition.

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The Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE: Miksi Helsinki ei kasva ylöspäin?

UN-Habitat: The World Cities Report 2016, Urbanization and Development: Emerging Futures, http://unhabitat.org/un-habitat-launches-the-world-cities-report-2016/

City Above the City wood architecture competition

Article: The roofs of today are the plots of tomorrow by Martin Langen

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