Six years ago, when I had just been appointed as the Director for Economic and Business Development in Espoo the Helsingin Sanomat daily newspaper came to interview me at the Keilaniemi metro construction site. Since that day, the Tapiola metro tunnel has served as the venue for Slush, Europe’s largest growth company event that specialises in bringing together startups and international investors and the metro stop at Aalto University has been used as the inspiration for a new augmented reality concept created by a group of international students that allows people to enjoy a virtual art gallery experience while waiting for their train. On Espoo Day, the acoustics at Otaniemi station were put to the test and given a seal of approval by legendary Finnish band Retuperän WBK, while cyclists have also enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to make use of these underground cycle super highways.
Investors meeting startups in the as yet unfinished metro tunnel during Slush 2013.
It has been great to witness how the metro has already proved so inspiring for so many and been put to good use as the physical backdrop for such a huge number of events, encounters and experiences. That said, I could not agree more with Arja Miller, Chief Curator at Espoo Museum of Modern Art (EMMA), who in an interview in the August issue of Kauppalehti Optio magazine said: ”West Metro, please come, we need you,” before adding: ”We are delighted at the number of people who have discovered Emma already, but for tourists in particular, direct metro access will make a huge difference.” The metro expansion will herald a new sense of dynamism for the entire capital region. International tourists will definitely feel the benefits, but so will local visitors, for whom the new rail map will be an excellent and convenient way to get to know the area better.
At Tapiola metro station, a brand new landmark awaits travellers. Emma jättää jäljen (Emma leaves a trace) by the artist Kim Simonsson is an enormous white sculpture that also incorporates a digital dimension. As the name already suggests, Emma really does leave a trace – her handprint and the character featured in a series of videos will lead visitors to explore the art on display in EMMA and elsewhere in Tapiola.
The eponymous Emma seen at Tapiola metro station and at the Espoo Museum of Modern Art. She also appears to visitors in a digital guise. Photo: Yehia Eweis / EMMA
Espoo is the city of sustainable growth. Other cultures are part of the fabric of everyday life here. There is huge demand in our area for new highly skilled jobs and new and innovative services. Together, they will act as a driver for a renewed sense of urban dynamism and provide a full range of employment opportunities for Espoo residents. The metro will play a key role in making this a reality.
The metro gets people moving. I’ve been so pleased to hear about the positive effect it is having on the recruitment prospects of a business based just a few hundred metres from the Urheilupuisto station. The business now attracts candidates from all over Helsinki, with many citing the excellent public transport provision as an inducement to applying.
Very soon, all that Espoo has to offer will be just a short metro ride away.
Tuula Antola is the Director of Business and Economic Development in the City of Espoo. She is an innovation gardener, who is ambitious to help creating new, not only in Espoo but in Finland also.