The Leppävaara district of Espoo is more attractive than ever. This is both known and felt by Mika Rantala who has worked as project director in the area since 2014. Here, at a prime spot, is where NCC’s development project OOPS is set.
One of Leppävaara’s key assets is its location at the crossing of the coast rail line, Ring I and Turku highway. It can be equally well reached by train, bus and car. The site will be even more accessible in the future, because the city rail line between Leppävaara and Central Espoo and the one-hour railway connection to Turku are on the investment agenda of the City of Espoo, and the light rail line Raide-Jokeri is already under construction.
”Leppävaara has become Espoo’s largest and busiest centre. From the residential viewpoint Leppävaara can offer all the necessities of good city life. Owing to its central location Leppävaara is also a popular workplace area,” Rantala says.
The rapid growth of the larger Leppävaara area will continue in the 2020s. According to the latest demographics, its population already exceeds 70,000 residents. There are currently 30,000 workplaces in the area which make one-fourth of all workplaces in Espoo, and the number is growing constantly.
Placemaking is the result of close co-operation
In Rantala’s opinion, the leading vision in Espoo’s development is to create sites with high accessibility by public transport. Among such sites is also the versatile mixed-use block being built in the detailed planning area of Hatsinanpuisto which includes an office- and retail centre, hotels, multi-storey housing, streets and parks.
”Although Leppävaara already is a major traffic hub in the metropolitan area, its attractive power must be improved still. For example, we are developing the railway station surroundings to improve the accessibility of services and to make it easier to change from one means of transport to another,” Rantala explains, and continues:
”The importance of sustainable development is more tangible now than ever before. Thus, the cityscape is densened up, priority given to electrically driven public transport and the light traffic routes are improved. The Leppävaara district is part of the comprehensive development work of Espoo and the greater Helsinki area.”
”We want to develop a high-quality, attractive urban space for the residents and other users, including those working and visiting the area. Interaction is my favourite theme. You can never overdo communication.”
Leppävaara City Planner increases participation and creates synergy
Rantala and his team are on a joint mission with the local residents to turn Leppävaara into a versatile urban centre that consists of harmonious, unique micro areas.
”People must be able to feel that they, and their opinions, are actually heard and genuinely considered. It is so important and rewarding that everyone should have their say. This is particularly true of Leppävaara, since the area is subject to massive complementary construction,” Rantala says.
The Leppävaara City Planner is a placemaking platform that helps people keep track of the current town-planning and construction projects of the area and gather ideas from the residents, including local insight in support of the planning work. The browser-based easy-use 3D tool puts the development projects on display for the residents. The Leppävaara City Planner has already collected hundreds of comments since 2015.
The city-planning pilot also includes low-threshold meetings with the residents which Rantala convenes approximately twice a month. The meetings are held in order for the Espoo residents to familiarise themselves with future projects and to discuss topical matters. Facebook, too, has an important role.
More life, workplaces and services
The strong triangle formed south of Ring I by Sello Shopping Centre, the Gallery Shopping Centre and OOPS will add to the area’s existing offering of spaces for working, shopping and entertainment.
”There is a pedestrian zone connected to the area development that leads to the station tunnel and furter to OOPS. With the development of the Vermo area, the pedestrian route will form a link between the open-air sports facilities at Leppävaara and Vermo that also passes through OOPS. We strive to offer the residents a public living room and a high-quality pedestrian zone with a versatile service offering,” Rantala says.
”The Raide-Jokeri light rail line will carry the crosswise moving traffic from Itäkeskus in Helsinki to Keilaniemi in Espoo, connecting the two centres together, which will generate new development projects. In addition to new housing and office spaces, we wish to beef up the hotel accommodation capacity in Leppävaara.”
Leppävaara Top 5
- Excellent location in a major traffic hub
- Urban space evolving as a result of interactive design
- Attractive area for both residents and workplaces
- Constantly developing, smooth traffic connections
- Constantly developing, versatile services
Who is Mika Rantala?
- Project Director since 2014, Leppävaara district, city of Espoo
- Worked in the private sector already 20 years
- Architect 2001, Helsinki University of Technology, Otaniemi, Espoo
- Lives in Espoo
- Married with five children (21, 19, 15, 13 and 8 years), 4 dogs and 3 cats
- hobbies: everyday physical activity, commuting by bike, moving in nature with dogs, an 80s hobby summer car
What is OOPS?
- A new city district set at Hatsinanpuisto, Leppävaara, for working, shopping, accommodation, entertainment and adventures.
- OOPS is built on the principles of wellness architecture to create a basis for an international ecosystem.
- The first office buildings will be completed in August, 2021.
- Figures: 38,000 sq. m. of office space, 32,000 sq. m. of retail and entertainment, 11,000 sq. m. of hotel space and over 300 bicycle parking spaces.