Projects and publications

This book is the first product of the Master’s Programme in Urban Studies and Planning (USP) that started in autumn 2017 as a joint programme of the University of Helsinki and Aalto University. The theme of the first studio course was “Confusing Suburban Identities.” It followed the main goal of the programme – an attempt to combine the perspectives of both research and planning.

USP publication cut

The book takes the reader to the themes studied in the first Urban Challenge Studio 1 course. It combines the students work to commentaries by professors and teachers across a multitude of disciplines, thus provides a stimulating and interesting commentary on urban identities. The book is a result of an incredible amount of work by the USP community, which we are very proud of. You can download the book through the links below.

USP Studio Publication 1
Confused Suburban Identities : A Case Study of Helsinki Region

Editors: Anssi Joutsiniemi, Hannu Linkola, Mia Puttonen, Kristin Swan, Mari Vaattovaara
Publisher: Urban Studies and Planning / Master’s Programme of Urban Academy in Helsinki
Layout design: Natalia Vladykina

ISSN 2489-8007 (print)
ISBN 978-951-51-4193-4 (print)
ISBN 978-951-51-4194-1 (PDF)

Painotalo Plus Digital Oy
Lahti 2018


This USP Student Guide Book has been created by an international team of students. The Guide Book aims to make the academic journey of new USP students easier to navigate within two universities, seven target degrees, five campuses, three study tracks, one thesis and much much more.

USP student guide book

The Guide Book sheds light on different university customs, traditions and systems that might seem abstract to new USP students at first. The team of students collected all the information they believed new  students might need, and provided links to places where to find more information. The Guide Book was created during summer 2019 and will be updated annually.

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.

USP china 2019 group photo

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.

The booklet done by USP students is a collation of the experiences and complementary proposals for ensuring Luoyi village’s prosperity into the future. 

Link to project booklet
Link to news piece in Chinese media (video in English)

Science exhibition "POST-URBANA - How to explore future cities?" took place in the Jätkäsaari City Living Fair in September 2018. In the Future tent of the fair, urban researchers and students from the University of Helsinki and Aalto University exhibited their projects. The exhibition showcased possibilities for better urban living, covering different topics, scales and technology. In addition to the exhibition, the tent provided space for debate and open dialogue.

usp jätkäsaari

USP students' work from a field trip to Nanjing, China, was the highlight by the USP programme. The international field trip took place in March 2018 aiming to learn and understand rapidly growing Chinese cities and to address the complex challenges these cities are facing. Students prepared posters to exhibit their Nanjing group work in four different study themes: housing, street life, green roofs and education.

Read more about USP field trip to Nanjing, China
Link to the City Living Fair website

In spring 2019, USP course Urban Transitions and Futures focused on the Malminkartano suburb in the North-Western part of Helsinki. During the course, the students developed visions for the area, imagining it as a sustainable, post-carbon and desirable neighborhood in 2050. The students also thought about the pathways and initial interventions for achieving the desired futures.

Photo of the train station

The course collaborated with the City of Helsinki through the Urban Academy network. As part of the course, students organized a real-life visioning workshop for the city officials, the local residents and other local actors at the Malminkartano Library in March 2019. The aim of the workshop was to invite these local actors to co- create a sustainable future vision for the neighbourhood. How would a carbon zero Malminkartano  neighbourhood be to live in?

Read more about the course topic
Link to Urban Academy website

In some courses, USP students publish their course work as blog posts. Both the University of Helsinki and Aalto University are dedicated to open science principles and major body of the USP joint work is done under creative commons agreement. The benefit of such way of working is that it allows students to utilize their work also in later stage, for example when applying for internships. Publishing the students work is always voluntary.

Visualization by Jaana Von Denffer

EXAMPLE OF STUDENT WORK FROM THE COURSE URBAN GIS, published in USP blog site. Visualization by Jaana Von Denffer

Urban Challenge Studio 1

The Studio 1 course in Autumn 2018 was built around the neologism of transurban, which aimed to track traces of change in urban arena. The site in focus was Haaga area in Helsinki, but the observations were reflected in regional, national and global context. In their course works, students detected several urban development challenges and provided solutions with bold future plans.

Link to Studio I gallery in USP blog site
Read more about the Studio I kick-off excursion
Read more about the Studio I final critique session

Urban GIS and Visual Tools

The Urban GIS and Visual Tools course acquainted students with GIS-based analysis and data visualization in the fields of urban studies and planning. Students examined various themes including digital representations, spatial entities and object types, raster and vector data, GIS and data structures, visualization and rendering, GIS and networks, web publishing and printing and volumetric data.

Link to Urban GIS gallery in USP blog site