Helsinki is the Capital of Finland and the centre of the Helsinki Region. The Helsinki Metropolitan Area consists of the cities of Helsinki capital region and ten surrounding municipalities. The Metropolitan Area has a high concentration of employment, approximately 750,000 jobs. The Helsinki metropolitan area is the world's northernmost urban area among those with a population of over one million people, and the city is the northernmost capital of an EU member state. The Metropolitan Area covers 3,697 square kilometers.

Read more about Helsinki City in case study report TU1206-WG1-007

Much of Helsinki outside the inner city area consists of postwar suburbs separated from each other by patches of forest. Being called the "Daughter of the Baltic", Helsinki is located on the tip of a peninsula and 315 islands. Despite the intensity of land use, the region also has large recreational areas and green spaces.

City facts

  • The Helsinki Metropolitan Area contains a total population of approximately 1.4 million, about a fourth of the total population of Finland. Population density in certain parts of Helsinki's inner city area is very high, reaching 16,494 inhabitants per square kilometer, but as a whole Helsinki's population density is 3,050 per square kilometer.
  • Helsinki has some 390 cars per 1000 inhabitants. Public transportation is managed under Helsinki Region Transport, the metropolitan area transportation authority. The diverse public transport system consists of trams, commuter rail, the subway, bus lines, two ferry lines and on-demand minibuses The Helsinki Metro is the world's northernmost subway. Air traffic is handled primarily from the international Helsinki Airport, located approximately 19 kilometers north of Helsinki's downtown area.

 How the subsurface is used

Helsinki Region, is located in southern Finland on the Fennoscandian shield area. The old Precambrian bedrock is well suited for rock construction because it is hard and located near the ground surface. Usually Quaternary deposits in southern Finland consist of a thin till cover on the bedrock surface. In typical landscape the hills with bedrock outcrops alternate with valleys filled with clay sediments.

The City of Helsinki has more than 200 km of technical maintenance tunnels, 60 km of which are utility tunnels used by a number of operators. The raw water for the Helsinki region comes via a rock tunnel measuring more than 100 km. Wastewater treatment is carried out centrally at an underground wastewater treatment plant. Approximately 9 million cubic meters, consisting of about 400 separate facilities or tunnels, have been built under the city.

The Helsinki Underground Master Plan controls the locations, space allocations and mutual compatibilities of the newest, largest and most important underground rock caves, facilities and traffic tunnels. 40 new areas and 100 new space allocations are reserved as rock resources for future rock construction.

Energy wells of ground-source heating and cooling are becoming more and more common. Large energy fields for large targets such as shopping centers, office buildings, hotels, and public buildings have also been brought in use. The underground city planning has to pay attention to possible conflicts between different ways to use the bedrock recourses.

 Project Partners

 Key partners: City of Helsinki, Geological Survey of Finland