The Institute

Pyöräkuva logolla

The Helsinki Institute of Urban and regional studies will focus on increasingly complex problems of urban development. The interdisciplinary research will engage with both scientific and planning related questions arriving from the challenges of urbanization.  As nearly 90 % of our population will, as in the rest of the western world, in the future live in our cities, a major part of all social phenomena, problems and positive amenities will take on an urban form. The research will focus on three interlinking but distinctive fields that form the basis of the main clusters in the institute: people, places and politics. 

The Institute is a joint division of four faculties of the University of Helsinki (Faculty of Science, Faculty of Social Sciences and Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Faculty of Arts) and an integral part of the Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS). The main tasks are to conduct, develop and coordinate urban research at the University of Helsinki. Urban Studies at the University of Helsinki are focused on the international Master's Programme in Urban Studies and Planning (USP). The Institute closely cooperates with Aalto University and the cities of the Helsinki Capital Region, paying special attention to their joint initiative Urban Academy.  

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Mari Vaattovaara is Professor of Urban Geography at the University of Helsinki and Director of Helsinki Institute of Urban and Regional Studies. Her research interests relate to the social and spatial developments in urban areas, segregation, immigration, housing preferences, and housing choice as well as to the housing policy. In addition, she has been working in the projects related to accessibility, creative and knowledge industries as well as to the competitiveness of urban regions. In addition to the academic research, Mari Vaattovaara is a requested discussant in the public forums.

Urbaria Steering board advances urban research and societal interaction in the university of Helsinki and nationally. It supports Urbaria director in steering the institute. The board decides on the activities, finances and staffing of the institute as well as supervises the quality control, reporting, communications and other relevant activities of the institute.

Faculty of Science

Dean Kai Nordlund (Vice Dean Marja-Liisa Riekkola) 
Professor Sami Moisio (Head of Department Annakaisa Korja).

Faculty of Social Science

Vice Dean Juri Mykkänen (Vice Dean Petri Ylikoski) 
Professor of Practice Pekka Sauri (Professor Matti Kortteinen).

Faculty of Biological and Environmental Science

Vice Dean Atte Korhola (Professor Sirkku Juhola) 
Professor Heikki Setälä (University Lecturer Johan Kotze).

Faculty of Arts

Vice Dean Jussi Pakkasvirta (Vice Dean Ulla Tuomarla) 
Professor Laura Kolbe (University Lecturer Terhi Ainiala).



The cover of Urbaria action plan

Urbaria has 3 focus areas on 2020:

  1.  Clarification of research themes and structures
  2.  Postdoc Forum
  3.  Urban Finland

Urbaria is organized as part of Helsus, Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science, a new cross-faculty research unit in sustainability science within the University of Helsinki.

The mission of the institute is to contribute to sustainability transformations of societies by means of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research and education. The research focuses in particular on Urban Studies, Consumption and Production, and Global South and Arctic contexts. There are around 50 professors and more than 60 researchers associated to the institute in the HELSUS faculties. HELSUS forms an attractive international and interdisciplinary research community for professors and researchers working with sustainability topics.

Helsus & Urbaria