My research questions included two following presumptions:

  1. Immigrants participate very little in city planning today (which is a problem).
  2. Immigrants needs are not recognized and reckoned in city planning today (which is a problem).

To examine if these presumptions are true or not, I made a content analysis of different city planning documents that concern Suvela between 2008-2015. I chose this time period, because this is when Suvela has had most resources to use for its urban regeneration. During 2008-2011 and 2013-2015 the city of Espoo received considerable financial subsidizes from the state and useful knowhow from other attendants of the suburb and housing programs that Suvela was enrolled in. The chosen time period falls also in the era – the 21st century – when the number of immigrants in Suvela has risen most (look at the page Multiculturalism).

There were altogether 29 different city planning projects presented in my survey. The chosen projects did not represent ’normal’ city planning projects such as compulsory detailed plans or street and park plans required by the legislation but only ’extra’ projects included either in the municipal city renewal program for the centre of Espoo or the national suburb and housing programs.

There is one exception to this rule: Suvelan Onni -project, which is about amending the detailed plan in housing quarters with blocks of flats in western Suvela. However, this project has included more interaction and investigations than usual detailed plan projects, which was the reason to take it in the research data.

One of the chosen projects, Voimanpesä, has continued even until today but was represented in the survey only in the suburb program, because there was no project report available about the time period after it.

Suburb program 2008-2011 Inbetween the programs Housing area program 2013-2015 ALTOGETHER
Research 5 1 3 9
Development 5 0 2 7
Planning 5 2 1 8
Study 3 1 0 4
Art 0 1 0 1
ALTOGETHER 18 5 6 29

The research data in my survey consisted of those public and official project documents that I was able to get either from the internet or from the city planning officials of Espoo.

The survey included two themes which each had two questions:

1     Utilization of multiculturalism:

  • Do the project documents state that sustaining multiculturalism is a goal/one of the goals in the project?
  • Do the project documents state that at least one of the procedures/conclusions/recommendations of the project sustain multiculturalism?
    (depending on the quality of the project, e.g. planning/research/development

2    Immigrants’ participation:

  • How many inhabitant and other citizen participants have there been in the
    project altogether according to the project documents?
  • How many immigrant participants have there been in the project according to the project documents?
    (Here immigrants mean those whose mother tongue is other than Finnish, Swedish
    or Saami.)

The results from the survey were these:

  • multiculturalism was stated as a goal approximately in every fifth project (20,7 %)
  • however, multiculturalism was taken into consideration in procedures/conclusions/recommendations twice as often: more often than in every two projects out of five (41,4 %)
  • almost two fifths of the projects did not include any participation at all (39,3 %)
  • almost half of the projects which included participation did not report the amount of participants (44,4 %)
  • participants’ citizenship/mother tongue had not been either asked or reported in almost two thirds of the projects (61,1 %)
  • there was also one regional project where participants’ housing area had not been asked
  • therefore, it was very difficult to estimate solely on the basis of the project documents how many immigrants had participated in the projects: according to them the number would be under 17 % which is less than immigrants’ proportion of the Suvela population (34,1 % foreign language speakers on January, 1st in 2016).

In order to define the percentage more accurately, I asked the project leaders for the obsolete figures. With this additive information immigrants’ participation percentage …


For some reason or another, multiculturalism was acknowledged as a procedure/ conclusion/recommendation more often than as an objective in the urban regeneration projects in Suvela during the whole inspection period in 2008-2015. It seems that urban regeneration in Suvela was not systematic in the sense how it took multiculturalism into consideration in its projects. One could think that it is the actual procedures that matter most for immigrants’ integration. However, if multiculturalism is not stated also as an objective in structural level, the integration practices at the grassroots level lack coherence and perseverence.

Nevertheless, there was a positive tendency that multiculturalism appeared both as an objective and as a procedure/conclusion/recommendation more often in the projects which were carried out last during the housing area program in 2013-2015 than in the projects conducted earlier during the suburb program in 2008-2011. Ten years ago multiculturalism was still such a new phenomenon in urban regeneration that it may have been despised or purely forgotten in the project agenda. Since the past few years, on the other hand, multiculturalism has been such a ’hot potato’ in national and municipal politics that all the different actors in the field have become more aware of its importance.

What was common for both the suburb and housing area programs and the period between the programs, was still a somewhat low amount of projects that included participation: about 60 % on average for all three time periods. In a housing area like Suvela which has lower average household incomes and education level as well as higher proportion of single-parent households, unemployed, social beneficiaries and immigrants than elsewhere in the city, participation should be a commonplace to meet the challanges  these facts set for the social coherence of the area.

There is even more to improve in the way participation in general and especially immigrants’ participation is reported in the public project documents. Surprisingly, there was a negative tendency  that documentation of participation was done noteworthingly better during the suburb program than during the housing program. Documentation cannot be seen just as a formal principal: Participation rate in city planning can be seen as one statistical indicator of immigrants’ integration which can help to target and formulate further urban regeneration projects in the area.

When we look at the presumptions mentioned above, we can conclude on the basis of this case study that

  • yes, immigrants participate very little in city planning today
  • yes, immigrants needs are not recognized and reckoned in city planning today.


Suburb program 2008-2011

Suvelan ulkoalueiden inventointi (2008)
Suvelan keskustan kiinteistöjen korjausrakentamis- ja perusparannusohjeet (2010)
SuvelaSURGE-kilpailuaineisto (2011)
Suvela-visio 2035 (2011)
Espoon keskuksen kaupunkiuudistuksen toimenpideohjelma 2011-2020 (2011)Maahanmuuttajasta naapuriksi (2009)
Suvelan Syke -klinikka (2009-2010)
Voimanpesä -hanke (2009-2012)

Suvelan albumit auki -hanke (2011)
4V-hanke – Välitä, Vaikuta, Viihdy, Voi hyvin (2008-2011)
Monimuotoinen, vetovoimainen lähiö -hanke (2009-2012)

Urbaani Onni  – Eheytyvän kaupungin ekososiaalinen kestävyys -hanke (2009-2011)
KAVERI – Kestävät kauppapaikat verkostokaupungissa (2010-2012)
Kävelyllä Suvelassa ja Espoon keskuksessa – havaintoja turvallisuuteen, turvallisuuden tunteeseen ja viihtyisyyteen vaikuttavista tekijöistä (2011)
Alueellisen ryhmäkorjausohjelman alueselvitys ja taloyhtiökysely (2011-2012)
Suvelan asuinalueen kehittäminen täydennysrakentamisen keinoin (2009)
Turvallisuuskävelyn suunnitteleminen ja toteuttaminen (2009)

Täydennysrakentamisen käynnistysvaiheen analyysi (2009)

Period between the programs

Espoon Keskuksen Visio 2030 (2012)
Suvelan Onni – Alustava maankäyttösuunnitelma (2012)
Suvelan pysäköintitutkimus (2012)
Asukkaana opiskelija-asunnossa (2012)
Espoon keskuksen taideprojekti (2011-2012)

Housing area program 2013-2015

Suvelan Sydän – Korttelin 40014 kehityskuva (2015)
VVV – Välittävät Valittavat Verkostot -hanke (2013-2015)
Manimiitti -osallistuva budjetointi (2015-)

ELINA – Elinvoimaisen alueen tilat (2013-2015)
Muuttovirtojen vaikutus alueelliseen eriytymiseen pääkaupunkiseudulla -hanke (2013-2015)
Valikoivan muuttoliikkeen dynamiikka asuinalueiden eriytymiskehityksessä -hanke (2013-2015)