City planning through an internet-supported neighbourhood forum


The city of Helsinki is centrally organised, with strong sectorised offices. Recently, the need for a wider collaboration between its inhabitants and the municipality has been raised in various arenas. At the same time the use of the internet has taken off rapidly. Each school and library in Helsinki is on the net and a growing number of households are also connected to the web. The development of a digital neighbourhood forum, called "Home Street", offers new opportunities for the management of cities in the information age.

The main goals of the Home Street Project are:

  • to increase inhabitant participation in urban planning and design
  • to innovate new managerial and planning instruments in communities and municipalities
  • to strengthen the identity of a neighbourhood
  • to underpin the existing social and economic capacity in the communities.

The Home Street Project has developed the internet as a participatory channel in urban processes. Interaction between the neighbourhoods and the municipality is determined from the perspective of the everyday lives of the inhabitants and not from that of the sectors and the organisations, as is usually the case. The pilot stage comprises the home pages of three different urban areas in Helsinki: Pihlajisto (3,000 inhabitants), Maunula (9,000 inhabitants) and Lauttasaari (25,000 inhabitants), which can be accessed via

In addition to the general informative pages, the "Home Street" comprises an interactive forum through which the inhabitants can make comments directly to the municipality, ask questions and propose improvements to their housing environment. The pages include different innovative tools for urban planning, such as a web based workshop for general planning, a web based walkthrough for the planning of urban green areas and a digital neighbourhood photograph album.

The Home Street Project is also a case study of the relationships between inhabitants and urban planning in the "information society". The main research questions are whether:

  • the internet boosts communication in urban planning
  • it promotes knowledge of everyday life as one of the key elements of urban planning.

The anticipated results of this research deal with the nature of ICT in the urban planning of tomorrow, as well as with the communication processes of the "information society", such as the function of expertise, the creation and management of knowledge as supporting or impeding communication in urban planning, and the consequences of ICT in the interactions between the residents and city administration.

Keywords: urban planning, internet-supported planning, knowledge forums, urban governance, collaborative methodology.





Aija Staffans, M.Sc.(Arch.), Manager of the Laboratory of Urban Planning and Design,

Helsinki University of Technology, Department of Architecture, P.O. Box 1300,

FIN-02015 HUT, Finland, Tel 358-9-4514460, fax 358-9-4548535, e-mail

Home Street Project - Net or Trap
Aija Staffans
Manager of the Laboratory of Urban Planning and Design,

Helsinki University of Technology, Department of Architecture, P.O. Box 1300

Communication in
Urban Planning

Göteborg Conference Papers - Oct 1999

Workshops for Environmental Innovations (Eijk et al)

Communication and Urban Green (Lindholm)

Integrating Biodiversity (Gyllin)

User participation in Public Park Administration (Delshammer)

Making Outdoor Places for Children (Kylin)

The Home Street (Staffans)

Identification of ecological potentials (Guldager et al)

Evaluation and Dialogue (Sager)

A Communicative Planning Methodology (Stromberg)

Rationality Revisited (Lapintie)

Planning deconstructed and rebuilt as discourse analyses


"Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent"


European Research Network - Urban density and Green Structure

Proceedings of the Gothenburg Conference:
Communication in Urban Planning - Oct 1999

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