Eco buildings laid the foundation. Now eco villages are the new kids on the block.
By Craille Maguire Gillies
Published in the April 2007 issue of enRoute
To see the future of the City, take bus number 68 from downtown Helsinki to a neighbourhood bordered by a nature reserve on one side and an expressway on the other. Through the multi storey windows of the mid-century modern townhouses and the shiny square condominiums, a typical suburban scene unfolds. Parents drop off children at a daycare near the town square, Kevättori, before walking to offices and shops nearby. Some head to work down the block at the University of Helsinki satellite campus. But while Viikki, a few kilometres from downtown, looks like any other Scandi-modern suburb, the technology behind it is anything but typical. This quiet community is a living laboratory for green design. The streets spread out like fingers, with surrounding small gardens and pathways – a design that lends itself to composting and water recycling. Solar panels top the roofs of rowhouses, which operate on 30 percent less water and 25 percent less fossil-fuel energy.