Design Driven City: Engaging designers to shape better cities

By Marine

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Remember when you and your family were playing the Sims, building houses, cities, and communities? Designers and architects, you could be doing the same things in real life, or pretty much so. Helsinki, Mexico City, Manchester: all have hired city creative directors to help foster civic innovation and find solution to inherent urban problems.

One of the most ambitious and comprehensive projects, Design Driven City, was launched this year in the Finnish cities of Helsinki, Espoo, Kauniainen, and Lahti. A legacy of the Helsinki World Design Capital event in 2012, this two-year project aims to help shape better and more people-centric cities. Design Driven City believes in the power of design to create user-friendly cities with better services for citizens and to spark conversations among communities around new ideas.

A multidisciplinary effort, Design Driven City leverages the experience of three designers: Sara Ikävalko, Mikko Kutvonen and Pablo Riquelme. Their mission as “city designers”? Build an understanding of design within the city, consult and educate city employees on the process of design.

Above (from left to right): City Creative Directors’ Pablo Riquelme, Sara Ikävalko, and Mikko Kutvonen

Over the next two years Design Driven City will work with 10 to 15 projects. The first projects will be: Tidy Construction Site, an initiative of Stara (the City of Helsinki’s construction service provider) that aims to improve the look and navigation of construction sites; a Home That Fits, which looks at solutions for youth homelessness; and Helsinki Festival (15-31 August 2014), a festival park area that will transform the capital’s Citizens’ Square into a gathering space with changing structures and functions.

There is no doubt that Helsinki is emerging as a city to watch as the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation chose the Finnish capital to launch its first open, international architectural competition. The jury of the Guggenheim Helsinki Design Competition is on the lookout for a visionary design for the proposed museum in the Eteläsatama, the South Harbor area of Helsinki with great national and cultural significance. Projects must be submitted before September 10th.

Now, design lovers, don’t you think Helsinki could be a great vacation escape this summer?

Above: The port of Helsinki, the heart of the city

Above: The port of Helsinki, the heart of the city

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