Digital Urban Presentation

Counter-urbanization and Urban Sprawl Repair

Urban sprawl repair originated in 20th century of American. After the Second World War, with the populatization of cars, large amounts of people shifted to the suburbs which caused the disorderly expanding of cities. The buildings were far from each other and maked it difficult for the covering of public transport. Hence, people who had enough economic ability would buy their own cars and didn’t use public transport. It formed a vicious circle. Christopher Leinberger has written, many of the car-dependent suburbs on the fringes, unwalkable and poorly served by public transit, “will become magnets for poverty, crime, and social dysfunction.”

Through increasing building density and floor area ratio and building new profile street, urban sprawl repair wants to solve this phenomenon and provide housing for the increasing population also.


Background of Haaga

With the accelerating of urbanization in Helsinki, population in Haaga will grow steadily. Therefore, more space to accommodate the new inhabitants will be needed in 2050. Most buildings in Haaga were built between 1950 to 1970 which were not planned from a general scale. Now there are many infill potentials in the developed areas.


According to The Aesthetic Townscape, the optimum of the street size aspect ratio(D/H) is 1. Too large ratio will make people feel abundant and lose the sense of scale.

Repair Haaga

Therefore, without destroying the original land use structure, it’s a good way to fixing the Haaga spatial structure by adding new buildings appropriately.  These new houses can reshape the profile of streets and prepare for the new residents in the future.

In the traditional way, we usually finish them by sketching, choosing the best plan and modeling. With the help of City Engine, we just need to draw the land use range and it will generate the different forms of buildings by changing the index. It shows the spatial scale without imaging in your head and good for the normal people

In these potential areas above, models can be generated in the City Engine. By comparing the different street senses and exported data of different type of forms, I’ll choose the most suitable form to repair this area. Finally, I’ll compose a map of fixed Haaga(or a general model of Haaga buildings).

Type Form A Form B Form C
Floor Plan
Street Sense
Building Area
Construction Cost
Building Performance

Ps: Here is the file of the topography of whole Haaga for those who also wants to do something in the North Haaga.

Haaga topography

My interests in this course

Impression of City Engine

City Engine has an unplaceable status in urban planning field. I usually used Arc GIS to generate the model of city and Sketch Up to build the new housing. But it would take a long time especially when there the region scale was big or there were some places needed to be altered. Compared with these software, City Engine has four advantages.

  1. It builds model much faster in urban scale. Unlike other models, the principle of City Engine is using computer generated architecture (CGA) language to describe the rule of modeling. That means you will take a long time to make these rules. But when you finished them you can create models in a batch. In other words, the time cost will only depend on not the scale but rules.
  2. You can change the model you built easily.
  3. City Engine can export the detail data of your model like the ecological footprint and green area.
  4. The rules can be saved and shared. Thus, there are not repetitive works in City Engine.

However, the details of building are not enough for a design work. The City Engine is not competitive in a smaller scale planning.


My interests

In China, the urban planning system contains three parts – general planning, controlled detail planning and constructive-detailed plan. One part of controlled detail planning is setting indexes like FAR, green space ration and height limits… It’s usually difficult for non-professional people to image what this area will look like just by seeing these elusive numbers. So when the planning is public on the Internet, inhabitants don’t know what’s this mean and make the public participation a kind of ritual.

In City Engine if we write the compulsory index into it the no matter how the model changes the area still meet the index. And people can see through the different forms by their wishes. It will be easier for them to understand what these indexes mean and they can give more detailed opinions.

The In this course I’ll focus on a detailed one to reach this.

The building forms in a residential district can be divided into 4 parts – determinant, point, peripheral and mixed form. Haaga is exactly an example.

In the future, the population will grow and the more constructions will be needed in Haaga. So I think about to find some infill areas and develop them. Through setting some indes, I’ll model these areas in different forms and comparing them by many aspects (cost, skyline and sense of scale). For example, if I give 1.5 FAR and 24 meters height limits to these areas, which form will fit Haaga more?

Further, through quantifying the data and giving them weight functions I can build a general score system to describe which form will perform well in this floor area ratio condition. (may be too much)

Thus, I’ll try to learn how to write the CGA rules in this course. Finally, I can write some rules that create different building forms under a same index frame.

Routes of inhabitants when exercise


Here are the exercise routes of people who live in Haaga. I have collected these data from exercise application’s website. Some of them are open to the public. There are 343 routes in all and the width of the lines indicates how often people will choose this route to have an exercise. From this map we can roughly see the north of railway is much more active than the south. More precisely, there are three places most people like to go: along the railway, the Anio Achtes park and the City park which located in the right of Haaga.


Basing on their starting point, I can divide them into four parts – Laasila, North Haaga, Railway station and South Haaga. I have compose their frequent routes into one map so we can see if there is any difference or relationship.

Here you can see most routes in Laasila are going to Kaarelanpuisto and City park.

People start from North Haaga like to exercise in Anio Achtes park and the City park.

Here is a interesting point is that there are quite many routes start from the railway station. I’m not sure they come from Haaga or not so I conclude it into a single part. The most routes are coming along with the railroad. It seems like people like to run along there and come back at the station.

Routes start from South Haaga are confusing. They have many choices. Some of them go down to Pikku Huopalahden puisto and some are choosing Riistavuoren puisto. There are still a lot of people choose to the City park.


About the exercise time. There are 210 of 343 routes that indicate their training time. 14.8% (31) routes happened in the morning. 41.4% (87) routes happened in the afternoon. 43.8% (92) routes happened in the evening. It seems that most inhabitants will choose to go out in the afternoon or evening.

Mid-term: About What I May Do Next



Through these several weeks’ study. We have collected many information about Haaga before 17th century to the 20th century. Before 17th century there was a forest without anyone living here. In 1915 Eliel Saarinen was hired by Ab MGStenius to make the Munksnäs-Haga plan but unfortunately not implemented. And according to Babak, before 1960`s there were only a few villa type developments in Haaga area. Most constructions we see now were built between 1961 and 1997.


Haaga has changed a lot than yesterday. Rivers become the roads and green space. The original texture planned by Saarinen gets replaced by a new one. Now it looks like a normal area in suburb of Helsinki. Inhabitants are most in a middle or lower class. Two railways lay across the Haaga and there are only a few tunnels connected except the station. From the texture you can see the buildings are separated into several parts.


On the Monday’s introduction course Mr. Manninen showed us the city plan of Helsinki. We can see in the future there will be a lot of constructions built along the E12 highway. Besides, Eliel Saarinen tie will become an important part of the ring road of Helsinki.

Problems I see


Segregation is common phenomenon that usually happened in suburbs. It can get caused by physical and mental factors. Physical factors often conclude railways, highways and walls… So you can easily see these in suburbs especially the industrial areas. Mental segregation is often caused by different cultures, religions or even different classes people are in.

I think segregation do exist in Haaga. Inhabitants living in south part of Haaga have a better education and average income than north part of Haaga.  If we let it go then for a long time it will form a stereotype to this area’s people. New residents moving to here will follow and strength this stereotype. Unfortunately, we can’t simply mix these inhabitants together to solve this problem.

Public space and recreational services

Except the Alprosparken, Haaga has much green space but most of green space is on the periphery of Haaga and doesn’t connect like a system. In other words, the green areas actually don’t serves the inhabitants. In a smaller scale, inhabitants lack the some places to do some activities or enjoying their neighborhood.

Haaga also lacks many kinds of recreational services. According to Karolina, there are only three bars, no shops and cafes.

However, I don’t have an interview of the local people of their needs and complaints. Lack of public space and services is my own opinion.

What I want to do

The inhabitants here have a convenient transportation to the center of Helsinki. So I want to create a green system benefits Haaga inside. This system will link the different residential areas and important constructions in Haaga and more accessible for inhabitants. In the nodes of this system there will be some space to carry the recreational activities. I believe through creating a environment for inhabitants to communicate and other social activities we can improve the harmony of this area to decrease the segregation phenomenon.

Also this system will be more flexibility. In the future government may build many constructions here. I will create some transition zones. For now they are green infrastructure. But if there will be a new building units they can build in transition zones and get linked into the system.

Measuring Unmeasurable

This article is trying to analyse the development, people and services of Haaga in a quantitative way compared by other regions of Helsinki. In this analysis I will just state the result the map showing and not giving many my opinions or assumptions.

Construction Development:

I choose the density of building efficiency ratio (FAR) and job volumes to assess the construction development of Haaga. FAR indicates the building floor areas in each unit and job volumes shows the jobs offered in each area.

It’s easy to find the whole Haaga keeps a low development and an even distribution in the FAR map. The Stromberg and Pikku Huopalahti locate beside the Haaga and have a higher FAR compared with Haaga.  The jobs map illustrate the Haaga keeps a low level of job volumes and beside it Stromberg owns high amount jobs.

There is a interesting point that you can see a clear line starts from the central Helsinki passing Haaga to the north-west.


According to the data from PX-Web ( databases I try to analyse the Haaga’s population composition. First is the class. We can directly see that Haaga is not a wealthy district in a large scale and the high income  areas spread along the sea coastline. What’s more, the inhabitants in south of Haaga have a better salary than northern inhabitants. We can have a rough presuming that most inhabitants in Hagga are in a middle or lower class.


Then is the age structure.  The youth (<18) and the old (>60) account 12.6% and 24.8% of total inhabitants. It’s not a healthy rate compared with other areas of Helsinki.

About the job and education, Haaga keeps a medium unemployment rate of 5.6% and a relatively high education rate of 68.6%.

Compared with other areas,  Haaga’s inhabitants are not in a good situation both in age structure and income. There is also a economic gap between north and south Haaga.


Services analysis basing on the daycare institutions, schools and elderly homes (data comes from GIS courses). Despite the size of them, I set a 500m serving buffer of each POI. In general Helsinki have a good coverage of daycare but not well in  elderly homes and schools covering in suburbs. Haaga seems to have enough service institutions.

The result of analysis is similar to my impression of Haaga during the excursion – a normal residential district. From the income we can see a slight difference between the south and north Haaga. I’m curious that does this have any possibility to influence the cultural level and make a separation? From the data I collect can’t get any result. So I’ll see other’s posts about diversity to get any clue.


Practical 3 – Some Skills and Tips

1. How to replace the null as 0.

After you join the attributes you can find some fields have null values. Always these null values won’t show up when you illustrate them. To solve this phenomena you need to replace the null values to 0. First you need to choose the null values in the attribute table. Then open the field calculator, choosing the field you want to update and putting 0 in expression.

2. Data type chosen when analysing by fishnet.
The building data we analyse is a point type. I think there will be many offsets with point type. If there is one building located between the two units of fishnet. This building should be separated into two parts and be calculated. But if the polygon type is transferred into the point type that means the point will only locate in single unit and this unit’s ratio will be much higher.

3. Some offset may happen if switch the steps.

I want to list this example to show the importance of correct steps. Before you start to join the attributes with fishnet and building data you need to clip it first rather than clip it after you have done the analysis. There will be some offsets exist at the edge of your area. You can see there are some points located beyond the edge of area but still located in the net unit of the edge. If you clip it first the building data will not be attributed but if you analyze first this data will get attributed and the values will be higher.

4. Expression should be correct when calculating.

Also, when you calculate the FAR you need to use the expression by floor area / $area not floor area / size of net. Because at the edge of the area the nets get clipped so the unit is not a full square.


Group member: Yao Chaowen, Dong Jiayi, Yen-chi Liang, Li Yingxin

Beyond Wikipedia – An Unimplemented Planning

When introducing the construction history of Haaga, Eliel Saarinen must be mentioned. As the founder of Organic Decentralization theory and also the most famous urban planner in Finland, Saarinen was hired by Ab MGStenius to make the Munksnäs-Haga plan in 1915. Although the maps in 1952 showes that this planning didn’t get implemented, I still think this is important for Haaga’s development.


In this book Saarinen make a specific description of his plan from the whole area’s arrangement into each house’s planning. In his planning, a railway and boulevard connect the Haaga and Helsinki. Haaga will become a half-independent satellite town to solve the future population pressure of Helsinki. The transportation of network looks like the multi-core radial pattern and the traffic avenues and living roads get well organized. What’s more, the whole area is divided by main traffic avenues into many small parts. Each part has several living communities. Green spaces are placed in the nodes and broad avenues and hard to be regarded as a system. The order of buildings follows the orientation of the terrain. Different types of houses located in different areas, It seems Saarinen wants various kinds of classes and various functions of buildings to get grouped. The education institutions and warehouses are not noted on the map so it’s hard to tell the arrangement of public buildings. There is also an aesthetic principle about houses. In this principle, different kinds of buildings like villa or public ones get recommended the building style and elevation.

It’s a practical and detailed planning. But due to the economic impact the First World War brings, Finnish government couldn’t afford the huge cost of this planning. The abandoned of Munksnäs-Haga plan was a matter of course. Even so, there were some houses get built besides the railway and the main roads. After the Second World War, Haaga got a rapid development and the older wooden houses were replaced by modern multi-storey houses and townhouses. Then from 1970s till now Haaga nearly keeps the same.

By comparing urbanization between Finland to other countries, he makes a prediction that Haaga would have a population between 549,880 to 373,480 in 1945. If his planning gets full implemented, maybe we will see a bustling Haaga or another fail case like Howard’s Garden City. However, we all have seen its situation now.

  1. Munkkiniemi-Haaga ja Suur-Helsinki : tutkimuksia ja ehdotuksia kaupunkijärjestelyn alalta / tehnyt Eliel Saarinen.