Urbaria organises seminars, events and workshops both within academia and with national and international stakeholders.

Urbaria academics is a multidisciplinary seminar series that presents urban research and discusses topical questions on Wednesdays from 9.00-10.30. Language of the events is English.

Urban Lunch Hour is a meeting of urban researchers from multidisciplinary backgrounds. By Urban Lunch Hour, our goal is to gather urban researchers of the Helsinki Urban Region together to network and share their expertise and ideas. Language of the meetings are mentioned in the event descriptions.

Urban academics

Join the multidisciplinary seminar community and bring your colleagues with you!

Urbaria Academics is a multidisciplinary research seminar organized by Urbaria Community. The seminar invites the University of Helsinki researchers to discuss and debate topical urban and regional research from various fields. The aim of the seminar is to bring researchers together and increase the dialogue between different disciplines.

Spring 2022: Welcome back to the Campus!

This Spring the seminar series will be held in April. Please find the seminar schedule below. In addition to interesting presentations and discussion, it is also a great platform to meet your researcher colleagues!

Breakfast will be served in the seminar. Therefore, we ask you to fill the forms below to secure your seat in the seminar and to notice us how many breakfasts we will order.

Time: Wed­nes­days at 9.00-10.30
Place: The seminar will be held in Urbarium, P114, Porthania, 1st floor.

It is also possible to join the seminar via Zoom.

Join via Zoom here.

Presented by Professor Christopher M. Raymond and Docent Liisa Kulmala

Exploring the social acceptability of ‘carbon-smart urban green infrastructure’

Christopher M Raymond and Jussi Lampinen

Increasingly, cities need to consider the co-benefits and trade-offs of managing urban green infrastructure for climate mitigation, biodiversity and human well-being outcomes.  Despite much attention to social values for green spaces, little research has considered the social acceptability of green infrastructure that takes account of climate resilience, biodiversity conservation and human well-being outcomes. This presentation explores Helsinki residents’ understandings of, and preferences for, ‘carbon smart urban green infrastructure’ and discusses planning implications salient to Finland and cities globally.

Biogenic carbon cycle in urban environments

Liisa Kulmala

The current understanding of carbon cycling in urban nature is based on dynamics observed in forests and agricultural lands. However, urban ecosystems differ from non-urban areas in terms of soil properties, plant species, temperature, water cycling, pollution, and the level of human-induced disturbance. Thus, we collected observations in an extensive field campaign and tested available process-based models in order to estimate the carbon sinks and stocks in urban green space.

Book breakfast here.

More information about Co-Carbon project here.

Presented by Associate Professor Laura Ruotsalainen, Associate Professor Leena Järvi and Doctoral Researcher Ákos Gosztonyi

Book breakfast here.

NOTE: exceptionally held on Tuesday in Porthania P673, 6th floor and Zoom.

Artificial Intelligence for sustainable urban development

Laura Ruotsalainen

The presentation discusses why Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a key enabler for sustainable cities and urban development. Then, it presents our activities in using AI for modelling traffic flow in a future urban area. Finally, it presents an AI method and its challenges in optimizing the livability of an urban area considering smooth traffic flow, air quality and attractiveness of a residential area.

Outdoor air pollution-related environmental inequality and environmental dissimilarity in Helsinki Metropolitan Area

Ákos Gosztonyi, Joanne Demmler, Sirkku Juhola, Sanna Ala-Mantila

In our paper first we explore the relationship between income and air pollution in Helsinki Metropolitan Area. Informed by the exploration, we conduct an environmental dissimilarity analysis to investigate the spatial distribution of air pollution between income groups. Additionally, we identify locations with the highest impact on environmental inequality values derived from the dissimilarity analysis and discuss the results’ policy relevance. In our research we utilize detailed socio-economic grid data and high-resolution annual mean PM 2.5 and Air Quality Index values aggregated to correspond to the grid data.

How urban planning modifies local pollutant concentrations in urban areas?

Leena Järvi

Local air quality is a result of complex mixture of pollutant emissions, meteorological conditions and urban morphology. Urban planning can have significant effects on the first and last component for example through the strength and location of emissions, and building and vegetation layouts. In our research we explore the connections on how with urban planning can be improve the air quality and provide healthier air for everyone.

Presented by Associate Professor Pia Bäcklund, Postdoc Johanna Tuomisaari, and Professor Gregor Hillers


Location: Online only! Join us via  Zoom 

Geothermal energy systems as natural underground laboratories

Professor Gregor Hillers

Our mode of living critically depends on sustainable natural resource production, and the accelerating climate crisis calls for substantial adjustments in our energy production system. Geothermal energy is in many ways an advantageous source for local heat and electricity production. The low environmental impact and the independence on weather patterns explain the growing interest to use geothermal energy, e.g., the City of Helsinki wants to generate 15% of energy by geothermal means in 2030. Recent progress in drilling technology has made deep geothermal energy production feasible as is vividly documented by the enhanced geothermal system (EGS) downtown Finland at about 6 km below the Aalto University campus in the Otaniemi district of Espoo developed by the St1 Deep Heat Oy company that is at the center of the discussion. During two weeks-long stimulations in 2018 and 2020 a reservoir fracture network was created between two wells by pumping high pressure freshwater into the deep hot rock formation to enhance the fluid flow for an efficient heat exchange.

On a more fundamental level and independent on the eventual heat production of the Otaniemi plant, the stimulations through Earth’s fourth deepest drill holes constitute controlled, in-situ rock physics experiments in an intermediate-scale natural laboratory. To maximize the scientific return of this experiment, our team at the Institute of Seismology at the University of Helsinki (ISUH) deployed seismic networks in 2018 and 2020 in addition to the 12 St1 stations used for industrial and regulatory purposes.

In this presentation I give an overview of the scientific challenges and opportunities associated with the development of the EGS in Otaniemi and the collected seismic data sets. I consider a range of research topics associated with fundamental rock physics and earthquake science but also aspects related to the impact on the local community that can influence the public attitude to this geo-energy production

Governing the seismic risk of geothermal energy: by whom and based on what?

Associate Professor Pia Bäcklund and Postdoc Johanna Tuomisaari

Reducing emissions from heating buildings is one of the key factors in mitigating climate change, as emissions related to heating buildings are estimated to cause up to 30 per cent of Finland's carbon dioxide emissions (Mattinen et al. 2016; see also Nissinen & Savolainen 2019; Statistics Finland 2021). The need for heating energy can be reduced by improving the energy efficiency of new construction and renovation, but there is also a need to develop new climate-friendly heating energy production methods. Geothermal energy has also emerged in Finland as an option to replace energy production based on fossil sources in urban areas. Its benefits have been seen as renewable and low emissions, among other things. However, the production of geothermal energy also involves risks that have only now been identified. Risks include, for example, noise and an increase in seismic activity that can, at worst, significantly damage the sensitive infrastructure of urban areas. However, the social management of risks is currently hampered by the fact that regulation of geothermal energy production is still under way. The current situation is well described by the concept of institutional void (Hajer 2003), in which actors at the same time both develop new ways of working and also strive to develop the regulations that condition this activity. The crucial question is also what kind of risk is societally acceptable.

Presented by Research Professor Katja Lähtinen and BSc Saija Mokkila

Book breakfast here.

Join online here 

Research Professor Katja Lähtinen, Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke)

Kuluttajien asumisodotusten yhteydet puurakentamista koskeviin ennakkoluuloihin

Puukerrostalorakentamisen lisäämisen tavoitteet liittyvät ilmastonmuutoksen hillintään, rakennussektorin toimintatapojen kehittämiseen sekä urbaanin asumishyvinvoinnin parantamiseen. Kuluttajien puukerrostaloasumisen toiveita on paljolti tarkasteltu materiaalien näkökulmasta, vaikka asumista koskevissa tutkimuksissa sijainnin on usein todettu olevan merkittävin kodinvalintaan vaikuttava tekijä. Tarkasteluissa on myös pääosin keskitytty puuhun kohdistuvia positiivisiin mielikuviin. Erityisesti kehittymässä olevilla markkinoilla ennakkoluulojen tunteminen on kuitenkin avainasemassa, jotta niiden aiheuttamia ongelmia voidaan ratkaista.

Suomea, Ruotsia, Norjaa ja Tanskaa koskevassa tutkimuksessamme tarkasteltiin, kuinka kuluttajien erilaiset asumiseen liittyvät odotukset selittävät puun rakennuskäyttöön kohdistuvia ennakkoluuloja. Tulostemme mukaan kaikissa neljässä maassa urbaania elämäntapaa ja hyvämaineisella alueella asumista arvostavat suhtautuvat epäluuloisimmin puun käyttöön rakentamisessa. Luonnonläheisten ympäristöjen ja estetiikan arvostaminen asumisessa vastaavasti vähentävät puunrakentamiseen liittyviä epäluuloja.

Puukerrostalorakentamisen tulevaisuuteen vaikuttavat monet asumisen markkinoihin liittyvät tekijät, kuten hyvillä sijainneilla olevien tonttien saatavuus, kuluttajatarpeita vastaavien puukerrostaloasuntojen tarjonta ja niitä arvostavien kuluttajien aikaansaama kysyntä. Tietoa tarvitaan lisää sitä, kuinka asumisodotukset ja arvostukset vaikuttavat puurakentamista koskeviin asenteisiin. Erityisesti epäluulojen taustalla olevien seikkojen syvällinen tunnistaminen mahdollistaa täsmällisen tiedon tuottamisen piilevistä esteistä, jotka vaikuttavat vastuullisen ja kestävän puurakentamisen tulevaisuuden mahdollisuuksiin.


BSc Saija Mokkila, Environmental Change and Global Sustainability-programme.


Urban lunch hour

Urban Lunch Hour is a meeting of urban researchers from multidisciplinary backgrounds organized by the University of Helsinki, Aalto University, the urban research and statistics unit at the City of Helsinki and the Association of Finnish Municipalities

During each session, researchers will get to hear one or two presentations about current urban research from organizing institutions. Presentations and discussions are mostly held in English. During the presentation, there will be time and possibility for questions and discussion about the impact of research results on the city and society development on a wider scale.

By Urban Lunch Hour, our goal is to gather urban researchers of the Helsinki Urban Region together to network and share their expertise and ideas. Our aim is to increase the fruitful communication between researchers and strengthen peer support among researchers within urban themes and different methods.

Hosted by Katja Vilkama, Urban Research and Statistics Unit (City of Helsinki)

Link to the seminar

Helsingin muuttoliike koronan aikana, Harri Sinkko, Helsingin kaupunki

See the presentation materials here

Helsingin väestönkasvu on perustunut viimeisen vuosikymmenen ajan voimakkaasti muuttoliikkeeseen. Muuttovoittoa on tullut sekä Helsingin seudun ulkopuolisesta Suomesta että ulkomailta. Vuonna 2020 muuttoliikkeessä tapahtui kuitenkin muutos, jonka seurauksena kaupungin väestönkasvu pieneni huomattavasti edellisiin vuosiin verrattuna. Esityksessä tarkastellaan Helsingin ulkoisen muuttoliikkeen rakennetta viime vuosina Tilastokeskuksen aineistojen pohjalta ja pohditaan tulevaisuuden kehitysnäkymiä erityisesti ennustamisen näkökulmasta.

During the recent decades, the population growth of Helsinki has been mainly driven by migration. The city has gained migrant flows both from other Finnish municipalities and from abroad. However, the migration flows changed rapidly in 2020, resulting in a noticeable reduction in the growth rate. In this presentation, I analyse the migration flows into and from Helsinki in recent years, based on data from Statistics Finland, and consider future pathways in population forecasts.

Havaintoja nettomuuttoliikkeestä korona-aikana, Olli Lehtonen, LUKE

See the presentation materials here

Koronapandemian aikana entistä suurempi osa ihmisistä asui monipaikkaisesti useammassa kuin yhdessä asunnossa ja työskenteli paikasta riippumattomasti etäällä varsinaisesta työpaikastaan. Tässä esityksessä tarkastellaan, miten muutokset asumisen ja työnteonpaikoissa koronapandemia aikana ovat vaikuttaneet nettomuuttoliikkeeseen Suomessa. Esityksessä tarkastellaan Tilastokeskuksen aineiston pohjalta nettomuuttoliikkeen kunnittaista trendiä ja sen maantieteellistä pulssia, mutta myös tilastollisen mallinnuksen tuloksia siitä, miten nettomuuttoliikevirtojen selitysmallit muuttuivat pandemian aikana ja sen eri vaiheissa. Tehdyt havainnot viittaavat siihen, että aluekehityksen väestöä keskittävät trendit voivat ainakin tilapäisesti muuttua digitalisaation ja etä- ja joustotyön yleistyessä. 

The event will be hosted by Iiris Koivulehto, Liaison Manager, University of Helsinki

Link to the seminar:

Associations of neighborhood disadvantage with criminal behaviour: Between-within analysis in Finnish registry data, Postdoctoral researcher Jaakko Airaksinen

The association between neighborhood disadvantage and crime has been extensively studied, but most studies have relied on cross-sectional data and have been unable to separate potential effects of the neighborhood from selection effects. We examined how neighborhood disadvantage and offender concentration are associated with criminal behavior while accounting for selection effects due to unobserved time-invariant characteristics of the individuals. We used a registry-based longitudinal dataset that included all children aged 0-14 living in Finland at the end of year 2000 with follow-up until the end of 2017 for criminal offences committed at ages 18-31 years (n=510,189). Using multilevel logistic regression with a between-within approach we examined whether neighborhoods differed in criminal behavior and whether within-individual changes in neighborhood disadvantage and offender concentration were associated with within-individual changes in criminal behavior. Our results indicated strong associations of most measures of neighborhood disadvantage and offender concentration with criminal behavior between individuals. The within-individual estimates accounting for selection related to unobserved individual characteristics were mostly non-significant with the exception of higher neighborhood disadvantage being associated with increased risk for violent crimes. Our findings suggest that criminal behavior is better explained by individual characteristics than by causal effects of neighborhoods.  

Safety in Helsinki: safety in light of Helsinki safety survey and crime statistics, Katariina Kainulainen-D'Ambrosio, Specialist, City of Helsinki

The City of Helsinki Safety Survey has been carried out every three years since 2003. The Survey is conducted again this fall 2021, targeting random-sampled Helsinki residents. The last findings from 2018 show that Helsinki residents’ idea of safety in their own neighbourhood, in the centre of Helsinki and on public transport in the city was more positive than in earlier surveys. This presentation will highlight some most interesting findings from the survey and how the issues covered by the survey have evolved, looking also into some crime statistics from Helsinki. 

Hosted by Tuula Jäppinen, The Association of Finnish Municipalities

Link to the seminar

Minkälaisia ovat uudet kestävät kunnat?, Ville Nieminen, the Association of Finnish Municipalities

See the presentation materials here

Kuntien toimintakenttä on merkittävässä muutoksessa sote-uudistuksen myötä mutta samalla kestävä kehitys haastaa kuntien toiminnan uudistamista. Kuntaliitossa on tarkasteltu kuluvan vuoden aikana aktiivisesti, miten kunnat tulevaisuudessa edistävät kestävää kehitystä ja mitä kunnat haluavat tulevaisuudessa olla. Tässä esityksessä käydään läpi, mitkä asiat vaikuttavat kuntien tulevaisuuteen ja minkälaisia asioita tulisi ottaa huomioon julkista toimintaa kehitettäessä.

Kestävä kuntajohtaminen, Anni Jäntti, University of Tampere

See the presentation materials here

Pohjoismaisen ja erityisesti suomalaisen hyvinvointiyhteiskunnan kontekstissa kunnilla on keskeinen, myös kuntalakiin kirjattu rooli kestävän kehityksen edistämisessä. Kunnat vaikuttavat omilla päätöksillään suoraan ja välillisesti monin tavoin yhteiskunnan kestävyyteen. Kuntien toimiessa hyvinvointipalvelujen järjestäjinä niiden johtaminen ja päätöksenteko sekä käsitys kunnista on perinteisesti rakentunut vahvasti talousnäkökulman varaan. Siirtymä talouden ehdoille rakentuvasta ajattelusta ekologisen kestävyyden ensisijaisuutta painottavaan ajatteluun edellyttää uudenlaista tapaa johtaa kuntaa. Tulevaisuuden kunnan ja kestävän kuntajohtamisen keskiöön nousee laajemmin elämisen edellytysten luominen ja turvaaminen sellaisella tavalla, joka huomioi luonnon kantokyvyn rajat, sosiaalisen kestävyyden ja taloudelliset toimintaedellytykset. 

Anni Jäntti työskentelee tutkijatohtorina Tampereen yliopistossa. Kuntatutkijana hän on kiinnostunut erityisesti kuntalaisten osallistumis- ja vaikuttamismahdollisuuksista, kuntajohtamisesta sekä kuntien roolista ja merkityksestä osana yhteiskuntaa ja ihmisten jokapäiväistä elämää.

Unfortunately, this event has been cancelled due to the case of illness. We will reschedule this session for the Spring 2022 programme.

Hosted by, Aija Staffans, Aalto University

Link to the seminar:

Can Big Data support urban planning?, Postdoctoral researcher Christoph Fink, University of Helsinki

Whether we like it or not, every single one of us produces an insane amount of data every single day. Much of these data relate to our everyday lives and our everyday mobility in cities: network operators record when our phones hand over connections to the next tower; when we borrow a bicycle or electric scooter the sharing system keeps track from where we go to where; and smartphone apps, e.g., sports activity apps, track our every move. Most of the data remain in the hands of private corporations. However, increasingly, cities have started to invest in smart city infrastructure and create digital urban twins. As some scholars have pointed out, more than enough Orwellian potential remains, but we also see cities attempt to establish a new digital commons and regain public ownership over data that their citizens produce.

In this talk, I want to look at the vast potential these data can provide in understanding people’s mobilities and everyday activities, and the opportunities to plan a healthier and more equitable urban environment. I’ll present methods developed to take non-average city-dwellers into account, such as kids and young adults, older people, or non-citizens, who all have different needs and face different challenges. We can use big data to improve their everyday lives and their accessibility in the city, and to the city, and assure they can participate and realise their right to the city.

Finally, I will discuss the challenges we face with such methods: epistemologically and practically, big data are problematic as a basis for decision-making, but often the only choice. How can we avoid technocratic short-circuits? How can we derive meaningful long-term policy from real-time detailed data? How can we overcome the technical challenges of dealing with high-volume, high-velocity, unstructured data? Using Big Data for urban planning is rapidly advancing: now is the time to ask which questions we can seek answers to, and shape how we shape the future of cities.

Use of Public Participation GIS (PPGIS) data in planning processes, Saana Rossi and Anna Kajosaari, Aalto University

Varied methods of engaging citizens in planning processes, disseminating results and implementing them into zoning decisions are used by public governing bodies in Finland, but barriers to effective, inclusive and truly collaborative participation remain prevalent. Planners report that while an abundance of data about citizen preferences exists, it is not accessible or there is a lack of skills or resources to properly utilize available information within planning processes.

Our research looks into how cities utilize data and citizen knowledge gathered through participation, surveys and research. Through collaboration on the NORDGREEN project with the City of Espoo, we have carried out a Public participation GIS survey with over 6,000 respondents, and are now developing and testing ways of disseminating this data throughout the city organization using action research methods. This research aims to find solutions to how citizen participation data could be implemented into planning practices systematically and transparently, promoting dialogue between officials, citizens and politicians.

More information

University of Helsinki, Helsinki Institute of Urban and Regional Studies (Urbaria)
Iiris Koivulehto, Liaison Manager
+358(0)40 564 9886,