Few people have heard of the Finnish city of Salo. For some it rings a bell when they hear that it was where televisions and radios of the brand Salora was produced. But for most people including citizens of Salo the city will always be linked to the production of Nokia mobile phones that led to a rollercoaster ride of first boom and then bust driven by globalisation and new technology. At the peak of the production there was more that 6000 people working at the Nokia factory having 5 shifts and commuting from all over the region leading to the slogan “Nokia Connecting People and separating families”. Today the factory is almost empty see more in the photo collection “Nokia has left the Buildling”
The first impression of Salo is also as if the citizens has left the city. And while the many empty shops and run down buildings in the city centre tells the story of crisis (Nokia used to pay 95% of local corporate taxes) it is also a story of how the city as a place where people meet has been fragmented in time and space. Salo is historically a market town and the market place is the centre of the city. This big space is mostly empty until it suddenly comes alive with local produce being sold and with the best take away Thai food in town. The fragmentation in time is age old but the fragmentation in space is much newer with the local gas stations suddenly becoming a small subcentre and the indoor spaces in the shopping centres becoming refuges for long, dark and cold winters.
The Technical University of Tampere — School of Architecture — is developing a collaboration with the local high school in Salo. The high school is in itself a small indoor town with a fantastic public space at its core and a view to a pristine landscape. But it is also surrounded by big roads that disconnects it from the city. The aim of this collaboration is to develop new curricula that work with a “Urban Capacity Building” with the students but also works as a link between the university and the local community of Salo. The first 3 week learning process has been tested and is the base for further experimental learning processes in 2018 where this will also be combined with university students working on site with similar “urban capacity building” learning processes.
The Concept of the learning process has been presented in a number of conferences — latest in Berlin at the “Learning from Context” conference — and will also be the base for a 2 week intervention in Venice in June 2018. See the presentation below.