The TRUST Column: The City is for the Good Life

We asked five experts from different fields to write a column about Helsinki Design Week’s this year’s theme ‘TRUST’. Read below what the mayor Helsinki Jan Vapaavuori has to say about the subject.

Helsinki’s vision is to be the most functional city in the world. The basic function of a city is to provide high quality services for citizens as well as the facilities to pursue a resourceful and fun life. A functional city presents concrete actions, choices and things that make people’s daily lives easier.

However, functionality will not be enough to stand out among global competition in the future. Culture is more important than infrastructure in attracting the best skills and investments. People are willing to endure malfunction in an inspiring cultural context. This is the strength of Helsinki, too. The city is a mix of rational functionality and unique roughness.

Participation is a requirement in creating culture. In the future, the city will increasingly form a platform on which people, businesses and organizations build their activities. Restaurant Day is an early example. Participation and activity in one’s own home city require a sense of security and uncomplicated coexistence with the city structures. In the future, it will be the city’s task to remove obstacles and enable people. In the future, the city will be more of a community – not machinery.

Jan Vapaavuori is a politician and the Mayor of Helsinki. He was a member of the Finnish parliament in 2003–2015 and served as the Minister of Housing and the Minister for Economic Affairs during four governments in 2007–2015. Before being elected as the Mayor of Helsinki, Vapaavuori worked as the Vice President of the European Investment Bank in Luxembourg.