Urban manors: Urbanisation, preservation and integration of Helsinki's manors within the urban structure

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisMonograph


This research examines the encounter of manors and the city. It describes the urbanisation, preservation and integration of Helsinki's manor houses and their surroundings within the urban structure. The work seeks answers to questions of how manors have become part of the city and how they have impacted the urban structure from the end of the 19th Century to the modern day. In addition, it examines how the development of urbanisation has been influenced by planning and conservation. The study presents an overall view of Helsinki's manors and looks at 27 subjects in total. The work analyses how the characteristics of manor landscapes have been protected, threatened and reconciled with other interests of urban planning, specifically infill development and adaptive reuse. The research is based on literary and visual sources and empirical landscape observations. Both historical research and planning research methods have been used in the study. Helsinki's manor houses and their surroundings are some of the oldest historical layers of suburbia and an essential part of Greater Helsinki's history. They have a multi-layered relationship with urban development; their extensive associated holdings have had an important impact on land policy and a significant influence on the shaping of the urban environment. The manors offer a cross-section into the urbanism of Helsinki's suburbs: villa allotments, early suburban settlement, the implementation of suburbs and eventually infill development. With increasing urbanisation, manor landscapes have been presented in various ways. In the study, this state of preservation is represented by typological models with extensively preserved manor house landscapes and fragmented ruins of manor houses at the extremes. The seaside manors typical of Helsinki emerge in particular. the characteristics of the manor landscapes have become incorporated into the city: they have either been preserved, destroyed or become urbanised and changed in character. Their original uses have been replaced with new functions and they have become part of the recreational network. Urbanisation has left its mark on the manor environments, and they in turn have shaped the urban structure and become part of the residents' everyday lives. Helsinki's diverse and historically layered manor house landscape was born as a result of this encounter. A significant portion of Helsinki's manor houses have been preserved due to long-term urban planning and conservation. The introduction of cultural environment assessments in the 1970s and, since the 1990s, an increase in conservation and preservation of manor environments through zoning have been the driving forces in Finland. Alongside the strengthened conservation policies, the competing issues of urban planning and opinions critical of conservation have come to the fore. In the increasingly dense urban environment, infill development and calls for more efficient use have become a threat on manor landscapes, particularly since the millennium. Other contemporary issues include the use of manors for public leisure and the changes brought on by new uses, the conflict between preserving nature and cultural heritage, and the selling of manor houses by the city to private stakeholders. As city structure becomes denser and the pressure to repurpose increases, it is important to continue safeguarding the cultural heritage of manor landscapes, develop them as part of the city and preserve the most valued areas for future generations. This research brings forth the need to recognize and make visible the multi-layered values of historical landscapes alongside other interests. The values should be preserved on different planning levels and through co-operation of different administrative sectors. The impact on the cultural environment and historic parks must be analysed through comprehensive and extensive assessment. In addition to the protective conditions ensuring preservation, conservation should also include active development and change management. As this research shows, the aim is not only to preserve the characteristics but to utilise them as part of a layered cityscape. The encounter of new and old creates new values. Historic environments should not be treated as objects separate from their surroundings; instead they should be integrated into the living urban structure. Manor landscapes are a resource in Helsinki's city planning and an excellent platform for strengthening the identities of urban neighbourhoods.
Translated title of the contributionUrban manors: Urbanisation, preservation and integration of Helsinki's manors within the urban structure
Original languageFinnish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Niskanen, Aino, Supervising Professor
  • Salastie, Riitta, Thesis Advisor, External person
  • Sinkkilä, Jyrki, Thesis Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-60-6456-7
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-6457-4
Publication statusPublished - 2016
MoE publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)


  • manors
  • Helsinki
  • urban structure
  • manor landscapes
  • history

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