What is the future street like? How can we ensure lively, aesthetic, inclusive and safe streets in the future city and incorporate new smart and sustainable solutions to them without losing any of the above through innovative design? These are questions that Metropolia University of Applied Sciences students examined as part of their design studies course on innovation in fall 2022. City of Espoo collaborated with Metropolia through SPARCS and Kera area development project, providing the students with challenge of thinking about future street concepts. SPARCS demonstrations on new energy and e-mobility solutions and Kera New Street pilot (2022) from Kera development project (https://www.espoo.fi/en/kera-new-street) provided a practical reference case for the students.
The students tackled the challenge from innovative and novel perspectives and focused on the complexity of the street space and the varying needs of its uses and users. One of the teams introduced ‘themed streets’ concept as part of their Hubside work and identified different key street types for the future based on their use: urban living rooms, playground streets, and green streets. These street types as shared spaces can provide the basis for the creation of a local community and a sense of belonging. Another team presented a street concept based on three pillars: circulation, identity and sustainability. Their work focused on bringing these elements into the street’s spatial design, which also included the integration of novel technological solutions into the buildings, pavements and street furniture.
The students’ future street concepts provide practical examples for the street designs of tomorrow. Increasing integration of different technical and practice-based solutions (such as in the topics of energy and mobility) into the lived environment will be one key practical issue in future smart city development. Urban life and people need to be kept in the heart of the development of such new and transforming urban environments as it is the people who make the city.