STUDIO I REPORT
Study of infill opportunities in Northern Haaga
My relationship with Haaga beforehand was as follows; I used to live there for 5 years, 2005-2010, adjacent Rohodorendon Park. I saw how the middle parts did change during the time. After that time period I commonly have went through Haaga by bus. Before this I lived for a while in Hakuninmaa and during that chapter in my life I used to change the bus at Northern Haaga mall when I was commuting to various locations. Therefore, I had a rather clear image of Haaga beforehand. However, to be honest, it might have been full of bias. During this study I clarified my view with a present reality of Haaga, and I did visit Northern Haaga few times and decided to concentrate to the North. I did do background study, checked the statistics, went there for real and combined it with all the experience and knowledge I’ve gathered during my life, and especially during the last years, and this course.
My viewpoint is from Real Estate Economics angle. My task was to find possible infill sites from Northern Haaga. However, I wasn’t purely thinking economics first. I did acknowledge there is two Haagas, southern and northern. And there is a clear difference between those. South being a rather wealthy and peaceful place to live. Moreover, it is nearer to Central Helsinki and public transportation options are grand.
Northern parts are further away from public transportation and it is more “planned”, there is this rather ugly mall that is no crown jewellery and it is not that wealthy. However, neither poor. There are a few Social Housing buildings etc.
Southern people say they live in Southern Haaga, Nothern people say they live in Haaga. That is what counts the most.
Or maybe I’m full of bias.
However, I would try to bring these two Haagas closer to each other, unite the people. I would try to put more housing to Northern parts, market priced especially. It wouldn’t solve anything if we would put social housing there also. Maybe we should put more social housing to south, however I did this study about Northern Haagas Infill possibilities. Maybe we should stop social housing and just give tenant-based subsidies for people who are in need for real. There wouldn’t be us and they. Just us. It would be a lot better system and a whole lot of studies support this. However, I won’t go deeper to that in this study.
Furthermore, it’s good to acknowledge that gentrification is lurking behind every development project. Thus, if it isn’t considered in the planning, we probably will end up being gentrifiers. We couldn’t gentrify the Southern Haaga, it is already middle-class neighbourhood. Therefore, gentrifier would eye to north. There, is still something to gentrify. And I’m not talking about gentrification as something good, something worth pursuing for. Let’s try to keep this in mind, the original inhabitants, local heritage and the nature of the area. (Moskowitz, 2017)
After all we need infill. Helsinki keeps on growing and Haaga has a grand location. I would call it as a transportation hub.
PS. I loved to live in Haaga. But to be honest I mainly slept there or stayed indoors at home, it was a grand location for me; it was in the center of my life triangle. I lived my life somewhere else. But my heart have always been where my home is. And Haaga felt like a home.
PRESENT REALITY, SITE VISITS
Picture 1 recognized infill locations in the start
In the start I started to study the map. Aerial images mainly. I didn’t want to check already made plans at all. I wanted to start from a clean sheet. By aerial images it was good to check possible infill locations.
After 5 possible infill sites were recognized the site visit was made.
During the site visits I got a better understanding of the public realm of Northern Haaga. I saw a lot of youngsters, pensioners and adults. Everyone seemed to be in a happy place. Area felt cozy. I was flying a drone, thus the people were interested and came to me and had a chat. There were also children playing in the green pockets in the middle of the housing area. They were having fun. Skyline was 3-4 stories high. Besides those towers in top.
After my visits (3 in total, and of course all that experience I had of the area beforehand) I thought I wouldn’t change a thing. I loved the skyline of Haaga and wouldn’t want to break it with “skyscrapers” either.
In infill area B(picture 1) was trenches left from World Wars so it was clear you couldn’t build there. Letter C, indicates the mall, I had plans to relocate it to there where the trenches were. Why is the mall where it is? Social services etc. are by the train station. Mall has a rather bad reputation, could we just move it to some better location, and start from a clean sheet? Why is it there? Does it have to be there in the future? Even though it is conserved.
In the letter D was this green pocket in the middle of the buildings that would easily accommodate two apartment buildings. Furthermore, the buildings were low-rise and +50 years of age, so it would be good to consider if it would be possible to give the housing companies allowance to build more. They could decide it by themselves. Demand for housing is sky high in Helsinki so this would ease it a bit. Adjacent to this area is maybe the best infill site, old gravel field that no one uses. At least not that many that there would be need to save it. It is roughly 1,2 ha. Furthermore, City have build a new sport ground to the Middle-Haaga, just a stone’s throw away.
In the other side of the common garden, which is by the Rohodorendon Park, is some low-rise industrial/office buildings(E). It would be good to consider the future of those plots again.
There are some ongoing plans in Haaga at the moment, for example they are increasing the amount of housing plots in northern parts and rezoning the ISKU warehouse to housing. These plans are not conflicted with the proposals in this study.
THE STUDY, methods used
GIS analyze was made in the very beginning with QGIS. I had real estate and building information, and the aerial image in the background. I did generate a model where the buildings would be marked with different colors by the age. I made a layer from the real estate registry where I could see who owns the land, City or Private. And the borders of real estates.
Financial analyze was made by general model I generated. Toolset I’ve developed in my job. So, I used a lot of knowledge I already had. However, some searches were made; like the market prize of building right sqm in Haaga. The price was found from the papers of City of Helsinki that were public. They had ordered an area property evaluation in 2015 from 3rd party assessor. So it is legitimate one(Municipality Law § 130). General land value according to this Catellas assessment made in 2015 is 700 €/sqm in Nothern Haaga.
Moreover, I have asked from leading lawyer of association of Finnish local and regional Authorities how long an valuation can be considered as valid; 3 years in general if there is no major matters during that time.
There would be three different scenarios with the infill. Demolishing, build to a undeveloped land or to build some extra floors to existing buildings.
Building and renovation costs differ from case to case, therefore the numbers used were generalizations, however based to studies from RAKLI, Osta, Vuokraa, Vaurastu (Olli Turunen & Joonas Orava), Sijoita Asuntoihin (Marko Kaarto) and conversations with several developers.
- construction cost 3 000,00 €/sqm
- renovation costs during 50y 1 350,00 €/sqm1000
- sqm value=700 000,00€ (1000sqm x 700 €/sqm)
- new building value=3 000 000,00 €
- 1000sqm x renovation cost expense=1 650 000,00 €
=1 650 000,00 €
55,00 % of the cost of building a new new building minus renovation costs.
- Example where we add extra floors: building has 3 stories already and 1 000 sqm. + 2 stories and we have 1 666 sqm. Rough land value increase = + 666 sqm x 700 €/sqm = 466 200 €
However, we assume that City takes half of the added value increase.
- 466 200 / 2 = 233 100 €
With 233 100 € a Housing Company can for example cover maintenance and renovation costs in the future or improve the real estate other ways.
- Example where old building is demolished, and the plot is rezoned:
Value of the land increases by rezoning the land by (+666sqm)466 200 € and as above City takes half of the increased value = 233 100 €
There is major renovation and maintenance costs coming in the near future, so the real cost of the new building is
3 000 000 €– 1 350 000 € =1 650 000 €.
1 650 000 € – 233 100 € = 1 416 900
We need to take in consideration the demolishing costs as well, which are roughly 120 000 € for example building.
- Finally ‘real cost’ of the new building is 1 416 900 € + 120 000 € = 1 536 900 €
It is assumed that the average size of the apartment is 50 sqm. New building is 1 666 sqm, and roughly 33 apartments. Cost of the new contemporary 50 sqm end demolishing option, in comparison to aged building with upcoming renovation an maintenance costs, apartment is 1 536 900 € / 33 = 46 500 €.
However, the sqm that is counted in building right sqm includes other facilities as well, not just the apartments. Hallways, bicycles and other storage rooms etc.
Nonetheless the maintenance and renovation costs will not all come when building turns 50 years, those are lodged during the years. However, the costly operations are around 50th birthday.
If rezoning would increase the housing sqm by 2 357 sqmand City wouldn’t cut the value increase the new building would be ‘free’. (minus demolishing costs etc.)
- Zoning of the undeveloped land = in this context this refers to land that does not have buildings on it, e.g. forest, recreation area, gravel pitch.
Draft calculations are made with efficiency e=0.8. Reason to a nowadays rather small efficiency is that it includes everything, not only the structures that is counted to zoning e=. Area needs civic infrastructure like roads and other maintenance utilities, and parking lots. I haven’t made any precise plans, just rough drafts, recognizing the possibilities. Haaga is surrounded by public parks and recreation possibilities already, thus, housing plots would only have the adequate free space.
- If the site A(picture 1) would be developed:
~15 000 m² area, with e=0.8 = 12 000 sqm x 700 €/sqm(Catella,2015)
= 8 400 000 €
Before rezoning the land has close to nothing value(market price), so the value increase would be more than 8 million. City gets that all as a landowner. However, there is tremendous bill to be paid when constructing the civic infrastructure, furthermore, schools, daycare, nursing, parks and other recreation areas, health and social services, community halls etc. And production costs of all the services occupants need(Cullingworth, Nadin, Hart, Davoudi,Pendlebury, Vigar, Webb and Townsend. 2015). It’s not just a profit. City of Helsinki has already paid a lot when they have developed the Middle-Haaga etc. Thus, it is reasonable act to build more housing to the area after all those already made and paid, and upcoming, upgrades to the area.
Value increase of gravel field in area D would be as set below if rezoned for housing with area efficiency of 0.8.
- Area ~ 1,2 ha
e=0,8 for whole area including infrastructure etc.
= 9 600 sqm x 700 €/sqm = 6 720 000 €
Moreover, existing civic infra is already present.
Furthermore, the added value for triangular shaped area in the middle of the suburban area would be as follows;
- Area ~0,55 ha
e=1,0 as it is a bit denser plot.
= 5 500 sqm x 700 €/sqm = 3 850 000 €
As there would be a lot of new residents there would be a need for a new parking plots as well. Nowadays streets are already packed of cars in Haaga. Extra space and on the street parking are in use. However, as City of Helsinki develops the public transportations system at quick space and Haaga has a grand public transportation already, moreover, a underlined spot in the future transportation plans. New light rail starts soon, buses will exist in the future even if those might be electric, and train serves a lot of people, new extra rail track to Turku might be reality soon and this would make trains serve more frequently. However, they are already here, aerial transportation units, aerial taxis. Future of transportation is nowhere clear.
When traffic and transportation plays a significant part in the future it would be just foolish to skip it in this draft as well.
As there is not a lot of certainties in the future of transportation, I wouldn’t force cars underground. It is costly maneuver. What if we don’t need that parking space after 50 years anymore? At the moment you can’t even live underground, it’s declined by the regulations. It pays a lot to put cars underground, and it can be seen in the prices of the apartments. How would we use the space in the future?
What if we are flying by drones in the future? Technology is already here. Parking would be on the roofs. Parking plots, or at least big number of those, would be released to use other ways. It would free a lot of ground space to other uses. (https://www.airbus.com/innovation/Urban-air-mobility-the-sky-is-yours.html, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQeqQFWu17k, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0iaRed439q8 )
From my view there is no point in locating cars to underground at the price it costs. Cars would be parked to parking facility building in the back of one block in my proposal. As driving an automobile wouldn’t be encouraged people would use public transportation more. Constructing for cars creates only more traffic, as it is proved many times before. It is also true we need cars and it is maybe the most propable future scenario where we drive less as individuals, but just sheer number of people increases such a lot that the amount of traffic inevitably increases. Moreover, services go all the time further from the people when healthcare and social services and even the food markets etc are relocated to larger units. Furthermore, the people who have children have different kind of needs, as well as elderly, invalids etc. . There is a lot of different examples of why we need to move more in the future. There will still be only 24 hours a day.
(Ståhle, 2016. Mikoleit.Purckhauer, 2011.p.32. Alexander, Ishikawa, Silverstein,1977.p.120. Rydin,2011.p.35)
DRONE model was made of one particular area adjacent to Rohodorendon Park. 3d Model was generated using Phantom 4 Pro drone and DroneDeploy professional software that uses photogrammetry to create a 3d model from the images and point clouds. The model is formed of 1 000 georeferenced aerial images taken from 50 m above the ground level. With the 3d model and already recognized infill locations I was able to “drop” the buildings to the model with Autodesk Infraworks 360 and check how the infill would affect the neigbourhoods skyline, esthetics and built environment. To check how infill fits with the neighbourhood.
Video of the model can be seen here:
(set quality to 1080p)
Even though Haaga lacks a bit of character it still is a very good place to live and seems to be in harmony with itself. Not everyone is willing to live in middle of hassle. It has a grand location and maybe it would be good to fill it a bit more just because of that. No reason to waste such a great location. There is a lot of potential for infill for sure. Especially those locations that were pinpointed in this rather short and quickly made study, and those that are taken in consideration, and that have implementations underway, by City of Helsinki.
Alexander, Ishikawa, Silverstein, Jacobsen, Fiksdahl-King and Angel(1977). A Pattern Language. p.120. New York: Oxford University Press.
Cullingworth, Nadin, Hart, Davoudi,Pendlebury, Vigar, Webb and Townsend (2015). Town and Country Planning in the UK. p.167. Routledge: Oxon.
Mikoleit, A. and Purckhauer, M.( 2011). Urban Code. p.32. Cambridge, The MIT Press.
Moskowitz, P (2017). How to kill a city. New York: Nation Books.
Rydin, Y(2011). The Purpose of Planning. Bristol: Policy Press
Ståhle, A(2016). Closer Together. Årsta: Dokument Press.