In 2021, Parkly’s green hangout spots were positively received by the residents of Helsinki. Now, the company’s efforts are being continued in collaboration with the City of Helsinki.
The turn of May and June saw the setting up of Parkly’s green hangout spots consisting of modular planting and bench structures at Ylä-Malmi Square. The structures include combinations suitable for both playing and sitting. The modular structures are placed in formations that create various types of hangout spots at the square.
In 2021, Parkly and Forum Virium Helsinki carried out two pilots together. The first of these involved Parkly introducing modular hangout spots that included plants to Ylä-Malmi Square, which was awaiting redevelopment, while the second saw the company bring more greenery to an area under construction in Kalasatama. The Kalasatama pilot was carried out under the B.Green project, whereas the Malmi pilot was part of the Helsinki Innovation Districts project.
The B.Green project develops solutions that support the green infrastructure of cities and digital tools for urban planning. The Helsinki Innovation Districts project involves testing how residential areas awaiting redevelopment could be livened up before the City’s development work begins.
Redevelopment preceded by agile pilots
The pilot carried out at Ylä-Malmi Square in 2022 is part of a reference plan prepared for the square and a step in a planning process that will eventually lead to the renovation of the area. The reference plan details things that should be taken into consideration in the actual implementation plan.
The placement of the green modules is based on the placemaking method, in which the city is redeveloped in close collaboration with local residents, companies and other operators. The method was also utilised in the pilots carried out in 2021, especially the one in Malmi. The aim of that pilot was to explore what kind of redevelopment locals would like to see in the area and how to build various types of structures that serve residents around the square.
The City of Helsinki was already carrying out placemaking activities and a related development project in Malmi, so continuing the collaboration with Parkly was only natural. The effectiveness of their approach was already proved by the feedback received about the first pilot.
More greenery based on residents’ wishes
The collaboration started under the B.Green project in Kalasatama has also been continued. The initial pilot carried out in 2021 involved using Parkly’s green hangout spots to test sensors that monitor the growth conditions of plants. In late spring 2022, Parkly’s green hangout spots became the starting point of the Urban Green Explorer application’s walking tours, which introduce participants to the green infrastructure of Kalasatama.
“These pilots provide us with important references, as our product and concept are suitable for many different types of urban spaces. The pilots help us validate the concept and identify new opportunities and different challenges,” says one of the two founders of Parkly, urban designer Päivi Raivio.
Parkly carried out its first pilot with Forum Virium Helsinki in 2020 as part of the Smart Kalasatama project. At the time, Parkly received feedback from residents saying that they wanted more greenery in the area, which the company relayed to developers.
Getting to know the area and listening to residents are the keys to a successful pilot
The pilots carried out in summer 2021 provided data on the use of movable green structures in urban areas awaiting redevelopment. The pilots also garnered positive feedback and increased the visibility of Parkly’s products.
The feedback received about the Malmi pilot, in particular, inspired the City of Helsinki to continue implementing similar temporary measures.
In both Kalasatama and Malmi, the companies heading the pilots also held events in which they met with local resident.
“All of the pilots that we have carried out with Forum Virium Helsinki have been successful. Our aim was to collect customer experiences, and the pilots allowed us to do just that,” says Päivi Raivio.
According to Raivio, the success of the pilots was facilitated by their process-like structure.
“We were able to test some very small things and change elements during the pilots. For example, in Malmi we ended up changing the placement of the modules in the middle of the pilot.”
The results of the pilots were widely publicised and discussed with stakeholders, such as City operators. The projects were also planned in advance in collaboration with local operators. According to Raivio, knowing the area where you intend to carry out a pilot is, in fact, essential for success. She also emphasises that communicating about the objectives and impacts of pilots is not something that you can do too much of.
“Some people still think that you cannot bring about permanent change with temporary solutions. That is simply not true.”
Parkly’s placemaking project in Malmi in summer 2022 is larger than the one carried out the year before, taking place at three different locations around the square.This year, the pilot features more content aimed at children and young people, such as workshops and elements that invite play, as one of the development themes identified based on the previous pilot was ‘the city of children and young people.’
More information about the pilots
The purpose of the Helsinki Innovation Districts project is to test new services, solutions and technologies in Helsinki’s suburban regeneration areas and Pasila. The urban green oases created by InnoGreen and Parkly were the first pilot carried out in the project. The locations and subjects of the pilots were provided by the City of Helsinki.
In 2021, the City carried out a green oasis pilot with Innogreen in Malminkartano. It was also followed up on when the City decided to engage in cooperation with Innogreen again in summer 2022.
The collaborations with Parkly and Innogreen characterise the core idea of the Helsinki Innovation Districts project: carrying out temporary pilots that can pave the way for something more impactful.