Maria Jaakkola is a landscape architect and an artist with a long career in both fields. She works as the head of the Environmental Office in the City Planning Department of Helsinki, Finland. Leading a team of a dozen experts, she has developed the discipline of landscape planning as an integral part of city planning, from overall land use strategies to detailed design. As an artist she has exhibited her neo-impressionistic watercolors both in Europe and in the US.
Jakkola recently finished the first part of the Helsinki Green Areas Strategy, in conjunction with the visionary phase of the new Helsinki Master Plan. The project, which has raised international interest, will define the future of the city’s green areas network from three perspectives: recreation/well-being, city identity and ecological sustainability/climate change. The vision sets goals of accessibility and integrity of the “green fingers” system and aims at preserving and developing the essential characteristics of green and maritime Helsinki. Jakkola lectures regularly in the academia and in professional seminars, and her article on Helsinki was published in Green Cities of Europe. She has also written about landscape and phenomenology.
As a Loeb fellow, Jakkola will look into the factors that make cities attractive, in terms of their open space systems in particular. Her research interests together with her view as an experienced practitioner and artist constitute a platform from which to explore the essence and experience of urban landscape.