THE AIMS OF THE URBAN LAB I
Urban regions and cities face transitions in land use that affect ecosystem services (ES). The concept of Ecosystem Services (ES) has been considered as one of the main approaches to managing biodiversity, human settlements, urban and regional planning and climate change, as well as reshaping thinking around sustainability. The ecosystem services can be categorized such as providing natural resources for basic survival, a contribution to good physical environment - for example through the access to green spaces-, as well as social, cultural and educational benefits for people, and wellbeing and inspiration from interaction with nature. However, only recently the ecosystem services have been brought to the attention of urban and regional planning and policy making.
The primary purpose of the Urban Laboratory I is to introduce theories and recent studies on the ecosystem services -concepts and approaches - for better planning. Secondly, the Urban Lab I aims to provide a general picture of the metropolitan regions where both concepts and approaches have been included within the land-use planning. Thirdly, the Urban Laboratory I aims to explore how Web 2.0 platforms and social media as Twitter and Facebook can help to discuss about the ecosystem services approaches. The students will be asked to explore the urban districts within the City of Helsinki, in particular the areas around Turunväylä in Western Helsinki.
The Laboratory will be structured around short and comprehensive introductions by the teachers, interactions with students and assignments (conducting city fieldworks, observations and 'face to face' interviews, opening online forums on Facebook and Twitter, exploring Web 2.0 platforms and writing short essays). Also, the assignments will focus on spatial analyses of the urban districts (such infrastructures, green spaces and services). They also learn how to make a research proposal and which research methods are suited. The students will conduct a case study.
The final tasks required proposing new methods for communicating urban growth and ecosystem services.