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5/9/1989 Meri-Rastila

Helsinki, Finland

Until the 1990s, Meri-Rastila was characterized by vast forests and farmlands. Prominent structures in the area included the Rastila manor, which owned the large tracts of land in the area until the 1950s when the land was acquired by the city of Helsinki. 

 

Meri-Rastila was conceived during the economic boom of the 1980s, which fueled high ambitions for the project. The planning process was exceptional in that it included a sociologist as part of the team, marking the first instance of such involvement in Finnish urban planning history. The objective was to ensure the establishment of organic gathering spaces and attributes akin to that of an urban village.

 

The construction of Meri-Rastila commenced in the 1990s but coincided with a significant economic depression. During this period, many private developers withdrew from projects, and the remaining new construction was primarily focused on affordable city-owned rental housing.

 

The 1990s also marked the emergence of Finland's first major immigrant communities. By 2012, the neighborhood had become one of four areas in Helsinki where more than a quarter of the residents spoke languages other than Finnish or Swedish as their first language.

 

The metro line extension to Vuosaari was realized in 1997, a plan that was yet undecided during the early stages of Meri-Rastila’s residential construction. This created a disparity between the low-density construction in the area and the pressures for densification around public transport hubs that have only continued to intensify in subsequent years.

 

In the 2016 Helsinki city plan, Meri-Rastila was designated as an "Urban Renewal" area. The city's primary goal is to boost area density and create demographic balance by constructing private housing projects, thereby preventing segregation.

 

Originally, densification was planned through new construction in the Rastila forest. However, the plans were halted due to the organized resistance from the residents. Subsequently, the emphasis of densification has shifted more toward the existing built fabric, resulting in extensive demolitions and displacement of the current residents.

HISTORY OF A NEIGHBORHOOD
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