Living in an emerging airport city - it´s all about urban quality

New housing blocks in Aviapolis to be completed 2019 by YIT Construction Oy Ltd

“Look for yesterday´s busiest train terminals, and you will find today´s great urban centers. Look for today´s busiest airports, and you will find the great urban centers of tomorrow”, says Dr John Kasarda, Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship.

Airports have long been considered noisy and unpleasant to live near. Why to bring housing close to busy airport? How to create desirable place to live and reside close to busy airport? These questions arouse, when I presented Airport City Aviapolis at World Aerotropolis Summit on 9-12th October 2018 in Singapore.

Aviapolis is located right next to the Helsinki airport, but in a pocket protected from noise pollution, so that air-traffic noise will cause no disturbances at all, meaning it´s suitable for living and working. Aviapolis aims to attract diverse crowd of people. The urban core of Aviapolis will amount 20,000 residents and 40,000 – 60,000 jobs. The area, 3,5 square-km2, corresponds to as many as 250 ordinary urban blocks. Aviapolis is becoming a vibrant destination with unique combination of business, services, recreation and housing.

Currently Aviapolis is home for 2000 businesses and the fastest growing workplace area in entire country. But how can we build Aviapolis as attractive place, where residents want to stay, even for life-long? I found three points after inspiring debate with colleagues from all around the globe:

1.There is a certain correlation between innovations and proximity to airport. Europe`s 25 most innovative metropolitan areas all have a city airport. The airport as a global player based on local strengths, offers better opportunities for residents, communities and businesses. Innovations are born in diverse, livable and connected cities. Innovations enable modern, CO2-free citylife.

Helsinki Airport provides Aviapolis with global connectivity. * More than 19,000 residents are already living in Aviapolis, but there is still plenty of room for new homes. More residential blocks to please many tastes has to be developed to promote peoples´ unique modes of life.

2. Mobility is a key in daily life of people in cities around the globe. It´s about “a day´s journey”. On average a Finn makes 3 trips, travels 41 km and spends about one hour by travelling in a day.

Currently in Aviapolis traffic is mainly based on privately owned cars with very low occupancy rates and on public transport on fixed routes, fixed prices and with tied fixed schedules, like most of the airport areas.

We need to find novel mobility solutions to tackle first/last mile problems and to enable living without owning a car. Right now, Aviapolis Traffic Lab aims for smart mobility solutions for traffic, commuting and logistics. More effective, quiet and safe solutions with less CO2-emissions are seeked in collaboration with over 30 private and public parties. In the ever-evolving Aviapolis walking and cycling are favoured and the entire area will rely on public transport.

3. Developing (airport) city for isn’t just about providing jobs, housing, and infrastructure - those are just the basics. For example millennials prefer to spend more money on experiences than on materials things. We need to focus on things that people enjoy doing in their free time: playing with their children, relaxing with friends, shopping, walking in nature.

In Aviapolis we have to offer appealing venues, public spaces and green areas for these activities. The aim is to create pleasant living and working environment walkable and human in scale - a tempting and sustainable city, that lives around the clock.

Building a diverse airport city for business owners, workers, visitors and residents, diverse mix of people, will only succeed if people view the development as a desirable place to live and reside. We need to create places people love. It`s all about urban quality - it`s all about sense that could live nowhere else.

*According to Airports Council International’s (ACI) Airport Industry Connectivity report, Helsinki Airport is the best connected airport in Northern Europe. Totally 320 million people are reached from Helsinki Airport. It takes for example 8 hours to Beijing, 8 hours to New York and 3 hours to Brussels.

Published: 12.12.2018 
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