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Challenge / Goal

The development of sustainable and smart urban districts involves many actors, developers, networks, and complex cause-and-effect relationships. New ways of co-creation and co-development, and the understanding of urban areas as systems (and sub-systems) - where many individual pieces, and the connections between these pieces, form a larger whole - are required to link all of the above together. Traditional solutions and practices might not be enough for such a complex environment.

The main goal of the "Co-creation model for smart and sustainable urban areas", developed in SPARCS, is to have a clear, illustrative and systematic presentation of a process and a set of methods of how to develop sustainable and smart urban areas (districts, blocks, individual spaces) in collaboration between the city, companies, organizations, educational and research institutions, residents and other local stakeholders. The co-creation model, or rather a toolbox, not only seeks to explore how common goals for sustainable and smart solutions can be defined for specific geographical areas together with the different stakeholders, but also how these solutions can be integrated into different stages of the development processes of urban environments.

The co-creation model has been developed through co-creation methods, including Design Sprints and other workshops, questionnaires, interviews and interactive webinars together with local stakeholders, including city departments, other cities, companies, organizations, landowners and residents during 2022. The model has been created by the City of Espoo together with subcontracted partners WSP Finland and Korkia Consulting. The model was first created by learning from the  Kera area development process, where innovative approaches for co-creation and co-development have been utilized to transform the old brownfield logistics area into a new urban district in the upcoming decades. This Kera-focused model has then been generalized for a model that can used in any kinds of area-level contexts in any city. Around 150 representatives of over 40 organizations have participated in the process.


The model is presented as an online toolbox ( and it is available for open use. It presents different methods, contract models (alliance model and area-level commitments), roles and responsibilities, and necessary steps identified for co-creation. Urban energy solutions and urban mobility solutions, the key themes of the SPARCS project, have been examined in close detail, and case examples from Kera and Soukka areas from Espoo are presented; also green infrastructure and area-level service development have been examined.

Citizen participation

Citizens form an integral part of any urban district. In addition to living and working in a specific area, they are often also the (current or future) end users of many urban solutions or even active developers of the solutions. Their role in the co-creation work is important from the first stages onwards. In the development process of the model, a workshop, webinar and questionnaire were used to gain citizen perspectives.


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Time period

Planning time: 6 months to 1 year

Implementation time: 1 to 2 years


City of Espoo and Subcontractor

Service providers

City of Espoo

End users

Cities, stakeholders (companies, organizations, landowners, citizens and others)

    Main benefits

  • Reducing GHG emissions

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