Temporary use of empty spaces in regional development

The University of Helsinki’s multidisciplinary Tilapioneerit project course studies and tests the temporary use of empty spaces in underused areas and in areas undergoing a change of use.


In cities, different structural changes have created underused areas, the development of which presents a challenge for designers, local authorities, real estate owners and other operators alike. The temporary activation of underused areas has been observed to have many positive impacts. Despite it being a successful practice elsewhere in the world, in Finland it is uncommon for private property owners or local public authorities to open up empty spaces for temporary use.

Tilapioneerit promotes the application of the principles of the circular economy to the use of the urban environment. It approaches the development of areas from a multidisciplinary viewpoint and makes use of project-learning techniques in a live environment.

What do we do?

Tilapioneerit is a project course organised by the University of Helsinki, which studies and promotes the temporary use of underused premises or premises undergoing a change of use in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. The course seeks fresh and unprejudiced ideas on how the premises can be used, which are then tested by being used for urban events and different short-term trials in the use of space.

During the course, students develop an area, taking advantage of local initiatives and co-operation networks.

The project will create a project learning-based teaching material package, which will be published and made freely available on the http://tilapioneerit.fi website and the website of the University of Helsinki’s Science Education Centre.

Who is participating?

Tilapioneerit project will be implemented at the Department of Geosciences and Geography of the University of Helsinki. Together with municipal officials and property owners, the course will select a project site in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. The project will be carried out in collaboration with the local network of operators, including those from the field of culture, civil society activists, educational institutions and companies.

A total of 25 university students will be selected for the pilot course. The course will be produced in partnership with Taaki Helsinki and communications will be implemented in collaboration with the Department of Social Research, Media and Communication Studies of the University of Helsinki.

Where have we got to so far?

The building of the co-operation network began in December 2017. The selection of the project site and preparation of the teaching material, as well as the marketing of the pilot course, will begin at the beginning of 2018. The course will be piloted in March-May 2018. In autumn 2018, the materials will be developed further on the basis of feedback received from students and co-operation partners, after which the updated materials will be published and made publicly available to everyone.


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