Development of the Urban Form in Helsinki and Stockholm metropolitan areas

Katunakyma Tukholmasta.jpg
Photo: Panu Söderström


The study focuses on differences and similarities of land use, regional and urban structures and transport systems of Helsinki and Stockholm metropolitan areas. The study aims to understand how different planning decisions have affected the development of the areas, what kind of changes have happened in the urban form and in which direction the development is heading in the future.

The study deals also with the differences in the Finnish and Swedish planning systems and analyses the cooperation between different actors in the fields of land use, housing and transportation in the studied metropolitan regions.

Research methods

The empirical study is conducted based on GIS-analyses, statistics and interviews of the planners and researchers from the regions. The theory of three urban fabrics (walking city, transit city, car city) provides a theoretical framework for the study. These fabrics differ from each other by their physical structure and by possibilities to use different modes of transport in the everyday travel patterns.

In the GIS analyses, the studied metropolitan regions are divided into urban, peri-urban and rural areas, which are further classified into travel-related zones (pedestrian, transit and car-oriented). Statistical data about the amounts and densities of population and workplaces can thus be compared in a rather detailed scale between different parts of the metropolitan areas.

Finnish urban regions have already been studied using the travel-related zone model in many previous studies. However, it has not been possible to compare the metropolitan Helsinki to any other urban region in Finland, since Helsinki region is the only international level metropolitan area in the country.


The research report “Nordic Capitals: Development of the Urban Form of Helsinki and Stockholm metropolitan areas” (in Finnish) was published in June 2014. The short version in English was published in May 2015. Publications are available in the SYKE Publications archive. The results were also presented in an article for PLANNORD Symposium in Stockholm in August 2015.

The results of the study indicate that Stockholm region is closer to a functioning metropolitan administration than Helsinki region, where the common vision of the development is not quite as clear. Stockholm has managed to channel the growth of the metropolitan area more inwards, densifying the inner parts of the region. The strengths of Stockholm also include a wide rail-based public transport system, new orbital public transport connections, excellent cycling infrastructure and successful traffic calming policies. On the other hand, Helsinki has managed to avoid some problems Stockholm has met, like the strong segregation between different housing areas.

Published 2014-09-24 at 12:54, updated 2019-06-18 at 13:33