”Is it ok for me to be here? Higher education campuses are often perceived to be inaccessible and distant. On the other hand there are plenty of expectations towards them in spreading the knowledge and expertise as well as fostering innovations. Streets and squares connect campuses to the rest of the city and are excellent places to be seen and to meet.”
This was part of the open invite for the workshop ‘Campus + Street’ on May 8 to co-create ideas for the future campus square of Myllypuro organised by Live Baltic Campus as part of Helsinki City Planning Fair 2017 and Uusimaa Week programme. The workshop took place at Laituri, Helsinki City Planning Department’s information and exhibition space.
To help workshop participants to orientate to the topic, three keynotes were given from different perspectives:
Head of Bureau Anri Linden shared the City Planning Department’s visions for developing Myllypuro. University of Helsinki student Aliisa Priha introduced the theory of neighbourhood effects and raised the important question whether the campus will indeed bring positive effects for the lives of current residents in addition to the student body. Senior lecturer of design Juha Ainoa concluded the first part of the programme with presenting Metropolia student ideations and concepts to create the Place in the campus square.
The workshop pursued to co-ideate, how campus square could become inviting for all of the neighbouring communities and how it could evoke interest beyond its immediate surroundings: Could the workshop produce concrete and implementation-ready ideas? Could it spur joint effort to continue with the ideas to become part of the development plans of the area?
The workshop was run in groups and it included a section of “stealing” other group’s ideas and developing them further into a full concept. At the end of the session groups presented their concepts to others and then voted for the best and most implementation-ready of them.
The concept ‘Pavilion’ won the most votes with a suggestion, how student works could be showcased in the campus square all year around. The proposal included a permanent pavilion building with an open space to provide meeting place that the group felt is necessary to make student works visible. The Pavilion would also open up opportunities for local stakeholders to participate in campus life and could serve as a test-bed for services and co-development. In addition, potential use of containers was brought up as temporary event hubs within the campus square.
In addition to Pavilion various positive activities were proposed to the square e.g. a skill and trick course for wheelchairs and physically impaired, mini ski slopes, book exchange, communal activities such as flea markets or culture events hosted in temporary buildings. The ideas presented all shared the will to collaborate and multipurpose spaces and places.
The future Myllypuro Campus Square offers a multitude of opportunities for co-creation, communal activities and simply enjoying the free time. At its best, it can help to forge a link between the various different actors of the surrounding neighbourhood: students, residents and entrepreneurs. Shared, multifunctional square can also boost and enhance positive neighbourhood effects of the campus.
Text by Susanna Snellman / Facilitator, teacher and cultural manager who loves Helsinki
Photos by Päivi Keränen (top), Katariina Saarela (middle) and Tuula Palaste / Uusimaa Week 2017 (bottom)