Centers at the fringe of the center

An invited talk at the yearly conference of the Finnish Association of City Centers (Elävaät kaupunkikeskustat ry).

Digital connectivity challenges the supremacy of physical space in explaining how we use and experience the urban landscape. Entirely new patterns of local, urban, and regional phenomena are emerging within the urban fabric. Successful and attractive urban spaces are no longer those planned according to well-established guidelines, but those derived from processes of activity clustering.

The roles of the centres in Finland is changing. As digital society and creative cultures are clustering in the metropolitan regions, they generate a gravitation pull that is causing shrinking and economic challenges for smaller urban centres. The roles of those cities can move towards excellence, supporting commerce through cultural and 3rd sector activities.

Fulfilling urban experiences, that attract social interactions and economic transactions, are all the relations between street and buildings. Street are critical to foster interactions between people, buildings and urban spaces have to address to societal questions and answer the needs for a fast, ever-changing urban culture. In this talk, I will present trends, ideas and urbanisation trends in Finnish city centres through the spirit of urban design and the eyes of communication technologies.