Vacant Spaces in Malminkartano
Malminkartano is a 1980’s suburb in the North-Western border of Helsinki. It is a village-like district with red brick architecture, surrounded by nature. However, the district is currently struggling with vacant and inactive shopfronts. Retail vacancy is a global issue that touches on big cities as well as small towns and neighbourhoods in many countries.
In fall 2022, Urban Dream Management was commissioned by Forum Virium Helsinki to conduct a study of vacant retail spaces in Malminkartano and a collaborative conceptualisation of solutions. The project is part of the Helsinki Innovation Districts programme by Forum Virium Helsinki, which develops experiments that help residents’ daily life in selected suburbs in Helsinki.
As part of the project, UDM interviewed local residents, entrepreneurs and other actors on the vacancy challenge and related needs and ideas. Together with Forum Virium Helsinki, we also organised a workshop with a versatile group of local residents, entrepreneurs, civil servants from different city divisions of Helsinki, and other experts, in which we developed short-term future visions and concrete experiments as well as discussed how to improve operational models concerning the rental of vacant spaces.
Based on the study, Malminkartano has good potential to develop new uses, including non-commercial ones, for vacant spaces that would also help revitalise the district and provide its residents necessary spaces for the community. Particularly the city-owned retail spaces in the district would work well for artistic uses, from professional workspaces, art education, leisure activities to events. In addition, there is potential to develop community spaces for residents, sports activities and different specialised services. In the workshop, we ideated different experiments through which new developments could be initiated and tested. The aim is to further develop selected ideas in 2023 as part of the Helsinki Innovation Districts programme.