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Use and Usability of Outdoor Public Spaces in Cities

Life On Land; Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure; Sustainable Cities and Communities; Reducing Inequality
Open for application


Outdoor public spaces are places where people can spend time freely, e.g., streets, parks, plazas, and marketplaces. Outdoor public spaces offer the residents and visitors of cities environments for sojourning as well as space for both everyday life and leisure, e.g., getting from one place to another or recreation. Thus, many activities, perspectives, and needs intertwine in these spaces, such as transport, accessibility, area planning, maintenance, safety, and comfort. Currently, the use of public spaces is facing great challenges as the cities aim to become carbon neutral. There is a need to optimize the use of limited urban space while ensuring the outdoor public spaces remain comfortable for the citizen. There is a growing need to serve sustainable modes of transport instead of car traffic, and e-scooters and other shared services are seeking new ways to use the urban spaces. The usability of outdoor public spaces should increase, but there is very limited space for a growing number of urban residents and visitors as well as different needs and activities.

The city of Tampere is the 3rd largest city in Finland with over 244,000 residents. In 2020, Tampere was selected as a finalist in World Smart City Awards [1][2] and in 2021 as a winner of the 10th Award for Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning (SUMP). Tampere has developed determinedly towards becoming a better, more sustainable, and more attractive city for everyone. Tampere has new projects important to the future development of the city, such as the Nokia Arena and the tram. Consistent development of public spaces makes the city more attractive and supports social sustainability. In addition to the city of Tampere, the challenge provider for this course, consultant companies Ramboll and Sitowise will engage their experts to work alongside university teachers to support and guide the students through the challenge. The students will have the opportunity to engage with the experts during the course and learn working life skills.

Our challenge 

New concepts for the Use and Usability of Outdoor Public Spaces in Cities

Making outdoor public spaces more usable calls for innovation and creative approaches. Comfortable and practical environments for transport and other activities need innovative planning and new concepts. Outdoor public spaces need to be usable for different groups, easy to manage and maintain, enable sustainable development and the use of sustainable modes of transport, and create possibilities for leisure activities and business. Population growth and changing urban areas create demand for new ideas for developing and using public spaces. The challenge is to develop new concepts for the use and usability outdoor public spaces, bearing in mind cultural and social needs as well as the endeavour for sustainability, including sustainable mobility and transport systems. On completion of this course, students have developed teamworking skills to successfully manage and resolve a societal challenge related to use and usability of outdoor public spaces in urban context by using Challenge Based Learning approach.

Expected impact and target groups

The challenge will impact cities and their citizens, including vulnerable groups, and their planners. The suggested solutions will help to develop the city of Tampere and provide city planners and transport planners an opportunity to rethink the use of outdoor public spaces in innovative ways. The solutions might, depending on the chosen focus, be used in other cities and their urban environment as well. The solutions from other cities could also be applied in novel ways when addressing the challenge.

About the course

The 5-ECTS course will run over an 8-week period (from week 5 to week 13, with week 9 off).

Students are expected to participate in common sessions in Zoom once a week, on Tuesdays at 11.15-12.45 CET. These sessions support students’ teamwork and include some short lecture parts. In addition, teamwork takes place according to the team’s own schedule. Overall, students are expected to dedicate 10-15 hours per week for a period of 8 weeks, between 30th January and 31st of March 2023. At the end of the course, all teams will present their solution.

Deadline for applications: December 31st, 23:59 (CET)

Maximum number of students: 25. The students will be informed of the acceptance to the course latest January week 1. The students are accepted based on the background and field of study in order to get a multidisciplinary and multicultural group of students.

Grading: Pass/Fail. Passing the course requires continuous contribution to successful teamwork and reporting one’s own progress regularly throughout the course.

For questions related to the content of the challenge or any other information, please contact the course responsible Hanne Tiikkaja at Tampere University,


Tampere University


City of Tampere

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