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How will outdoor recreation areas be used and developed in the future?

In 2014, a plan was drawn up by Sito for the development of the outdoor recreation areas owned by the City of Helsinki to the west of the Helsinki municipal boundary. This plan took into account the perspectives of the users, the City Sports Department, and the service providers. The recreation areas concerned were Lähteelä, Elisaari, Karjakaivo, Pirttimäki, Luukki, Vaakkoi, and Salmi. Today, these areas are used for hiking, cycling, skiing, boating, camping, and caravaning

The City of Helsinki offers a variety of outdoor recreation areas for the use of its residents. ”With this new study, we wanted to obtain an overview of the current state of the western recreation areas and development guidelines for the future, harmonized across departmental boundaries. We also wanted to chart the views of our partners on the development of the areas, which, although owned by Helsinki, are located in the neighboring municipalities,” says Antti Salaterä, Technical Planning Chief of the City of Helsinki Sports Department.

New operational concepts were developed for the plan that can better respond to current and future trends. Resources need to be allocated to match users’ needs in an economically sustainable way. The first priority for users is that the basics are in order. Users are also willing to pay for outdoor recreation services, which enables various forms of business in the areas. According to Antti Salaterä, there was constructive discussion during the work on what should be done by the city and what can be outsourced.

The demand for outdoor recreation areas will continue into the future, as surveys show that nature and the sea are important to Helsinki residents. They are also a great source of pride. People enjoy spending time outdoors in nature, and the sea views and archipelago are often also shown to visitors. ”Recreation areas in nature and the archipelago are greatly appreciated by the residents,” says Jenni Lautso, project manager at Sito. During the work, four main user profiles were identified: active sportsperson, hiker, hedonist, and putterer. ”The user profiles provided a fresh perspective to the development of the areas,” notes Antti Salaterä. The development proposals include improving accessibility with public transport, communication on events and services, coming up with ideas for new activities, and diversifying the basic services of recreation areas, such as hiking routes. ”In the future, service design can be used to develop new types of content for the use of the areas, while communication can increase visibility, as it is obvious that Helsinki residents are not even aware that we have such wonderful areas available as well as the potential to develop them,” continues Salaterä.

The working group involved in drawing up the plan included a multidisciplinary team of experts from Sito, including architects, a landscape architect, designer, communications expert, and sociologist. Sito’s Infrastructure Management consultants were responsible for outlining future operational models.

For further information, please contact project manager Jenni Lautso (Architect SAFA YKS410).