In April 2019, students and teachers from the Urban Studies and Planning Master’s programme (Aalto University/University of Helsinki) were invited to participate in a workshop in Luoyi village in the Chengmai district of Hainan, China.
Luoyi is a typical example of global rural-to-urban migration trends, and the resultant neglect of the rural villages and traditional lifestyles. As a growing global trend, and a particularly acute problem throughout China, the multidisciplinary workshop spanned several themes concerning the revitalisation of rural villages, involving projects of varying size and time-scale. Students conducted field research and interviews whilst in Luoyi, and combined their different experiences in order to propose some development strategies for the village.
This booklet is a collation of the experiences and complementary proposals for ensuring Luoyi village’s prosperity into the future.


Haikou is tropical touristic destination in Southern China. It is located on Hainan island and is has long history. Records tell that a fortification was there at least since 13th century. An old legend tells that five dragons had grown up in lakes of Hainan. Now Haikou is proud with traditional Qiong opera that was established 17th century and puppet theatre.

One of architectural typology curiosities is Haikou Qilou houses that were built in commercial districts between late 19th – early 20th century. It is an architectural style that merges traditional building layout with then popular European style facades. Qilou have residential and commercial functions, and resemble row houses with beautiful facades and arcades to hide from sun and narrow long exteriors with succeeding rooms. While ground floor of Qilou is used for commerce and storage, first and second floors could be residential, with shopkeeper’s family living there.

European colonial culture had influenced tastes of rich Chinese merchants who travelled to Europe. When they returned home they would order to build visually similar houses in coastal cities. Local construction techniques with bamboo were combined with a mix of Western styles facades.  The craftsmen were usually trained in Europe as well. Richly decorated facades bear a blend of Western decorations and Chinese traditional patterns, if one gets closer to observe.

In 1924 the government had demolished an old city wall and there appeared opportunities for Haikou expansion. In two years 800 Qilou houses were constructed and special regulations on how to build them were introduced. Height and width of buildings depended on street width. Typically Qilou has two to three storeys and are three to six meters wide. Behind the first room, in the middle of the building Qilou have courtyards, in accordance to Chinese housing tradition, but Qilou courtyards are typically smaller.

Not reconstructed view of Qilou

Middle of 20th century brought a decline of Qilou construction, the were not as successful anymore and were rented to fit several families inside. But by the 21st century the tradition of Qilou is experiencing small revival, especially with more tourists coming to visit Haikou. Old houses are restored and turned into popular shopping spots again. But some of families decide to reconstruct the building completely, leaving only a typical for Qilou long narrow footprint.  Many of the buildings are turned into touristic sight spots and hotels, serving tourist based economy of the island. The return of interest in Qilou is coming along with accepting that style as cultural and historic heritage, developed under specific historical circumstances as a mixture of Western and Eastern building traditions.


Chen, J. 2013. Haikou QiLou Historical and Artistic Value. Applied Mechanics and Materials, 409, pp. 404-409.

Haikou China official website. Available online at <>

Career Perspectives by Darrel in Ikigai

Darrel Ramsey-Musolf, Assistant Professor of Regional Planning, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst talked about finding your own personal perspective on career development.

For that you can maybe use the traditional Japanese approach and locate yourself in the Ikigai concept!

Unfinished weekly tasks

Here is a little continuation on discussion related to unfinished weekly exercises. As Mari mentioned, we have been little worried about unfinished weekly exercises that are piling up and creating extra stress for some of you. Unfortunately her suggestion for major relief has created some extra questions that need clarification.

The main idea behind is this: The aim of the first half of the semester exercises was to invite you all on same discussion and to position yourself within the group and with the multidisciplinary field. This said, it is important that you close up these first tentative work as soon as possible to free time for the final work of each course.

Therefore if you have already passed in weekly exercise items, don’t worry about completing a couple missing ones. The aim of weekly tasks we to make sure that you all keep up with the discussion and learning. We are not superinterested, if ALL of them are done, but instead to have enough input to understand you own interests and perspectives as well as the development of your argumentation. If you however haven’t written anything yet, please make sue that there is at least few items in every course so that the teachers are able to do your course assessment in feasible bases.

To move into next exercises, please write short list of exercises that you haven’t finished and pass it in to Intro course box in University of Helsinki Moodle site by the end of October. Teachers will go though your list and are in contact with you personally, if we need more input from you.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy

“‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’. is a proverb. It means that without time off from work, a person becomes both bored and boring. The exact origins of the phrase remain unclear, though it was recorded as early as 1659.” (Wikipedia)

… and Beyond Wikipedia version goes like this:

Over past few weeks there has been discussions about work load. It is obvious that one can spend days instead of hours for a single blogpost, if the expectations are raised too high via competition. As it is stated in assessment criteria we appreciate the overall work that is done in reasonable time frame, the very same goes with the weekly posts.
Have fun and play a little as well.

Presentation Excursion Perception Exercises

Let`s talk about your perception exercises!

We will have a common discussion/reflection at your perception exercises I-III on Friday morning,  05.10.2018 after the general wrap-up!

Please print your ME, MYSELF AND I exercise and arrange them in one horizontal line on one wall in the studio space. The material of the 2nd exercise (collage) should as well be physically present, so that we can have a general discussion about your findings! Please bring your soundfile on a memory stick or upload it to your student page.



Haaga shared resources

G’day. I did little preliminary work for you guys…

First of all. There is a new feature of Network shared media. In post/page editing you have some additions in “Add media” button. When adding media you should have a new option of Network shared media which shows you media files from other sites as well. Hopefully this reduces the need for multiple file uploads. Also, I increased the max upload size of media to 4 MB. I hope that is sufficient.

Second. There is a new Menu-item Resources in this shared student page (You need to be logged in). It contains two subsections for you to update as you wish.

  • Repositories contain list of larger data repositories that you find useful. This is an ordinary page, so just push Edit and do your additions.
  • Haaga documents are single items that might come useful. Please spend a little extra time when uploading these posts; you may decrease your peers’ search time. Haaga documents are custom type posts, so to make one select New> Haaga document and fill the details needed and Publish like ordinary blogpost.

Feel free to comment, if there is need for changes or improvements.

Population pressure on green areas in Helsinki – GIS Practical 1

The assignment for the GIS and visual tools course last week was to create a map depicting the population pressure on green areas in the small areas of Helsinki and include an analysis of the map.

Looking at the second map, the highest population pressure to green areas per square kilometer are in the city center, and the lowest in the outskirts, mainly the Ulkosaaret (archipelago) and the vast forest lands bordering Sipoo (Ultuna). This was expected, since the city center host many people and lots of buildings but few green areas, as city centers usually do, whereas the forests in Eastern Helsinki are scarcely populated. When moving out from the city center the population pressure is significantly lower, and that is also expected: less built environments and less people means that there is space for more nature in between.

One of the Helsinki small areas sticks out on the map: Kluuvi. Kluuvi is the core area of the city center, where the Helsinki central railway station and some of the biggest department stores and buildings are located. This means that there are not that many apartment buildings, and so fewer people share the same green space. In addition to this, Kluuvi holds both the Töölönlahti area and the Kaisaniemi park, and these are considerably large areas of urban green space in the city center. Kaivopuisto in the south-east corner of the Helsinki peninsula is another example: it is an area that consists mostly of a large park with relatively few inhabitants.

On the other hand, thousands of people pass through Kluuvi and the city center every day, or they work in the area. These people might spend a third of their day in this area, which means that the amount of people spending time in Kluuvi during both day and night (clubs, bars, travelers, etc) is significantly higher than just the amount of inhabitants in the area.

North of the city center the population pressure is lowered by the big central park. What I consider the most interesting here are the areas that are being built, because those are the areas that can still be affected and altered with important factors and perspectives in mind. When the population pressure is not yet too big and there are still green areas to preserve, maintain and plan well, planners should proceed with caution. On the other hand the city center clearly needs some innovative urban green space planning, since much of the land is already built upon. There are several examples of green walls, floating or climbing gardens and the usage of e.g. rooftops or other unused spaces to increase the amount of green space in a city.

When planning an area this kind of a visualization is important, since it tells the same story that the numbers would do, but in a way that is easier to comprehend. Planners and constructors should take notice as well as the politicians. This map is a good example of the kind of multidisciplinary knowledge that is needed when making decisions that affect people’s daily lives. A static map, however, does not tell us anything about the change in the area over time, of how people perceive the area or what the green areas are used for and if they are accessible. This can be seen on the first map, which shows the green areas of Helsinki.