More design challenges in the future

A programme for the next five years was outlined at the Sino Finnish 100 Challenge gala NIGHT.


By Hannu Pöppönen

Jarmo Suominen and Bao Xiying drawing a charcoal image on the wall, accompanied by violin music. A drawing is taking shape on the green wall of the Sino Finnish Center of a group of people that can be identified as guests at the gala night of the Sino Finnish 100 Challenge.

The drawing by Suominen and Bao is not just a reminder of the event but a great symbol of the Finnish-Chinese project as a whole. The idea was to create new kinds of collaboration between Finnish and Chinese people.

Just a moment earlier, the best students in the Idea Competition and the university leaders involved in the project had received their awards. Professor Suominen, who managed the project, presented the figures achieved during the year. As many as 3,000 people participated in the various phases of the project, and 32 partners and six cities were involved. 100 students attended the Summer Camp in Espoo. The Finnish companies involved in the camp made contacts with the Chinese universities.


Professor Yrjö Sotamaa presenting the next stages of the project.

The universities that took part in the project were Aalto University and Helsinki University from Finland as well as notable Chinese design institutions such as Tongji University and Donghua University in Shanghai, China Central Academy of Fine Arts and Tsinghua University in Beijing, Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Guangdong University of Technology. Persuading so many institutions to cooperate with the Finnish partners is an achievement.


After Suominen, it was time for the initiator of the project, Professor Yrjö Sotamaa, to present the next stages of the Sino Finnish 100 Challenge. The project will continue until at least 2022.

Although the project was originally set up as an event to celebrate the anniversary of Finland's independence, its objectives were much broader than simply increasing Finland’s visibility.

The aim has been to make more students from top Chinese universities become interested in Finland as a place to study or work or to employ them at Finnish companies in China.

The project has also aimed to create business opportunities for Finnish companies through cooperation in China. A year, however, is such a short time.

"Relationships have been established and strengthened during the year. As the network is now in place, it can easily be expanded," said Sotamaa.


Summer Camp Director Timo Nyberg and professor Haoming Zhou from Tsinghua University feeling content with the project outcome.

The organisers of the Sino Finnish 100 Challenge did not want to leave a project that had started so well.

Sotamaa explained that the programme for the new project will be published soon and, as was the case in the first year, it will continue to include an idea competition for students, a summer camp in Espoo in August and design-based projects in various cities. The aim is to involve new cities in both Finland and China. For example, there are ambitious goals for the summer camp: the target will be to attract 10,000 participants in the near future, says Summer Camp Director Timo Nyberg from Aalto University.


Zhong Zhihua, President of Tongji University emphasised willingness to continue the collaboration.

Judging by the speeches made at the gala, the Chinese partners are at least as enthusiastic as the Finnish organisers about continuing the project. Zhong Zhihua, President of Tongji University, also emphasised willingness to continue the collaboration.

The theme of the programme is Life in Future Cities. Instead of just focusing on architecture, the emphasis is on the development of new kinds of innovations for how to use cities, how to make them better places to live in using existing resources. One example of this is the School as a Service project developed by the City of Espoo and Aalto University, in which students of Haukilahti upper secondary school occasionally study on Aalto University campus and share resources with the university. A similar project is currently underway in Shanghai.