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Meeting of the UBC Commission on Urban Planning

Tampere is the 3rd largest city in Finland with approx. 210 000 inhabitants. It is also a city of industrial history and a centre of industrial innovations, and in 1882 a Tampere factory had the 1st electric light in whole Scandinavia. In 1974 the world's first mobile phone call using the NMT-technology was called from Tampere. Actually, the world famous mobile phone company NOKIA was originally founded in Tampere although it then moved to the neighbouring municipality Nokia in the 1860's and changed the name according to the new "home town". Tampere has also been the home of many textile and wood processing companies. Situated between two lakes, the natural rapids between the lakes provided an efficient source of energy for the factories. The rich industrial history of Tampere is visible everywhere in the city, and also the city planning department of Tampere has its functions in the former Frenckell paper mill.

The Commission on Urban Planning had a seminar and meeting in Tampere on April 14th-17th. The seminar theme "Edges of the City Centre and Reuse of Traffic Areas" concentrated on an acute question in many cities, namely increasing the density of city centres and avoiding urban sprawl. Also climate change and sustainability in urban planning were taken into account in the seminar programme, as Mr Oras Tynkkynen, the Finnish Government Climate Policy Specialist, gave a presentation about urban planning in low-carbon societies. The seminar workshops concentrated on two traffic areas: the first workshop on a lake shore area next to a busy highway that needs to be connected to the urban structure, and the another workshop on reuse of the former railway cargo station area. The City of Tampere is planning big investments in the form of a tunnel and a new sports and concert arena to improve the areas, and the workshops made their own proposals for increasing the city density in those areas. The former traffic areas and creating new use to them is a common problem in many Baltic cities.

An important part of the seminar has always been the exchanging of experiences between professional urban planners. This time there were 40 seminar participants from Russia, Scandinavian countries, Baltic countries, Poland and Germany. The eruption of the Eyjafjöll volcano in Iceland caused many seminar participants problems in travelling back home, but fortunately everyone got back home almost in time with trains, ferries and buses.

We will remember the Tampere seminar forever for many reasons: the seminar programme and organizing was excellent, we had great entertainment in the evenings (especially on Friday we were in a Sauna by a lake, and listened to the local urban planners' rock band Erkki Tahti & Johtoryhmä, which was great fun), and of course the volcano eruption and the unusual ways of getting home remain in our memories.

The next CUP seminar will be in Siauliai in Lithuania autumn 2010.

For more information

Sirpa Kallio

Chairperson of the UBC Commission on Urban Planning, Project Manager
City of Helsinki Economic and Planning Centre
tel. +358 9 310 36124
e-mail: sirpa.kallio@hel.fi


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