How Walkable is Too Walkable?

This is the first post in the coming "ITY" City series. In this series I will be giving various new perspectives on how to understand more concretely otherwise complex urban phenomena, and how this understanding can influence future projects at all scales. I believe this approach reflects my process as an urban designer -- I understand the city, how it is used, and how people perceive it, yet I look for answers through concrete information, measurements, and application of some special principles.

This particular discussion and experiment have stemmed from, and will contribute to, an ongoing project in collaboration with Timo Hämäläinen of Urban Finland and Christoffer Weckström. Together, we are taking a comprehensive look at how future development in Helsinki is unfolding and in particular, how well these plans will achieve the goals they have set for themselves. In Jätkäsaari or Kalasatama, the notions of walkability, connectivity, accessibility, and sustainability -- the core "ITY" city principles -- form the foundation for every design decision. The question we are answering is, whether these principles characterise the masterplans or not?

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