Sustainable Cities 2019

Sustainable cities in the Nordic-Baltic region was arranged in Tallinn, Estonia on the 31st of October to the 3rd of November 2019.

The intensive course was arranged by a project team consisting of members from Tallinn University, the University of Latvia, the Stockholm Resilience Center (Stockholm University), University of Helsinki (Kaupunkiakatemia), Aalto University and Hanaholmen – the Swedish-Finnish cultural center.

Sustainable cities 2019 Course Description

Course Material 2019

Programme 2019

In 2019 the challenge case concentrated on developing Mustamäe and its Post-socialist residential courtyards. The challenge included dealing with an increasing amount of cars parked in the courtyards, threatening their position as green community spaces. Read more about the case here

The Winning Proposal

All of the five student groups succeeded in creating innovative, inspiring and highly impressive solutions for the future development of the area. The winning proposal Piece of Cake was presented by Team 4, which consisted of the following members:

Dace Butenaite, Environmental Sciences, Water management, Engineering  University of Latvia

Tatiana Surdu, MA Geoinformatics for Urbanized Society , University of Tartu

Greta Skripkauskaitė, Human Geography and GIS, Klaipeda University

Sofia Leijonberg, Architecture and Urban Design, Chalmers University of Technology

Eelis Hemberg, Water and Environmental Engineering, Aalto university

A summary of the proposal: 

Mustamäe has inherited from Soviet times a space with little identity, lack of seasonal activities, planning that does not support people’s flow effectively, social disengagement and the current car-possessing trend. Fortunately, five enthusiastic and idealistic students have come up with a novel solution: the central courtyard node by which we mean physical structures (eg. gazebos or pergolas)as the central collecting idea. Courtyard concept consists of a shared pieces of functional and diverse land use combining blue elements (aesthetic rainwater collection pool; water retention structure/bioswale ; flowing water), green elements (recycling bins; compost; community gardening; trees, berry bushes and flowers; soil improving vegetation), recreational areas (place to cook/grill outside; dog park; public art; outdoor gym; mini-golf or other approachable sport) and functional infrastructure (solar panels; inviting benches; lighting solutions; bike racks and scooter sharing solutions) surrounding the node. Residents will be the decision-makers and personalize their courtyard by choosing desirable solutions among a variety of options. After successful implementation of pilot courtyard we aspire to develop it into a network of courtyard nodes. Dealing with mobility issue, we aim to change people’s paradigm mainly through implementing barrier features around the courtyard, along with information campaigns and cultural influence through joint action rather than top-down restrictive rules so that their awareness will make them decide to use healthier and more sustainable (for themselves and environment) means of transportation, rather than pressuring them in a mostly formal/financial way. We believe this “nudge” approach to change mindsets and ways of thinking is a more likely impetus for change in Mustamäe.

The other talented teams and their proposals

TEAM 1 (Final Presentation) (Summary of the Proposal)

Triin Abrams, Human geography and regional planning / Geoinformatics and cartography, University of Tartu

Anna Hakala, Urban Studies and Planning, University of Helsinki

Salomon Berg-Khan, Architecture and Urban Design, Chalmers University of Technology

Madara Leja, Geography, University of Latvia

Eva Paola Canmpos Cantu, Engineering – urban planning, Technical University of Denmark


TEAM 2 (Final Presentation) (Summary of the Proposal)

Kingsley Koranteng, Geoinformatics, University of Tartu

Adela Brianso Junquera, Global Health, University of Copenhagen

Regita Zeila, Geography, University of Latvia

Mathew Page, Urban studies and Planning, University of Helsinki


Team 3 (Final Presentation) (Summary of Proposal)

Mats-Laes Nuter, Urban Governance, MA, Tallinn University

Ryan Hamilton, Master in Development, Environment and Cultural Change, University of Oslo

Agustina Sidders, Environment and Natural resources, University of Iceland

Samanta Straupaite, Human Geography and GIS/Master, Klaipeda University


Team 5 (Final Presentation) (Summary of Presentation)

Aaron Tuckey, Social ecological resilience for sustainable development, Stockholm university

Anna Rut Arnardóttir, Environmental Engineering, MS, University of Iceland

Elina Jakovele, Spatial planning Master, University of Latvia

Vilhelmas Bladyka, Human geography and GIS studies, Klaipeda University

Nhung Nguyen, Advanced Energy Solutio/ Sustainable Energy in Buildings and Built Environment, Aalto University


Kevin Drain, PhD Candidate, Urban geography, University of Helsinki

Eerika Janhunen, PhD Candidate, Real Estate Business, Aalto University

Inta Jansone, PhD candidate, Spatial Planning, University of Latvia

Niak Sian Koh, PhD Candidate, Sustainability Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre

Piret Vacht, PhD Candidate, Ecology (soil ecology), Tallinn University

Organizers: The project is administered by Hanaholmen and the partners include University of Tallinn, University of Latvia and Stockholm University (Stockholm Resilience Center). In addition, the project group consists of members from collaborative partners such as Aalto University, University of Helsinki and the Urban Academy Network.

Funders: Nordplus Horizontal 2019-2021

Partners: Mustamäe City District Government

About The Nordic City Challenge

The Nordic City Challenge was piloted in 2015 in Espoo, Finland. After the first three years the organizing team has continued to develop the concept, in order to be able to promote multi-sectoral and -disciplinary collaboration concerning sustainable urban development in the future. In 2019 the Project took its current name, Sustainable Cities in the Nordic-Baltic Region

Read more about the Nordic City Challenge 2016-2018 here

Read more about the current programme here