Temperatures reaching 30 Celsius, a clear blue sky and half the city stretched out on the grass of the Esplanade park to enjoy the sunshine – what better time for Helsinki to hear the news that it has claimed top spot in Monocle magazine’s 2011 Quality of Life Survey.
The Finnish capital has jumped from fifth position in Monocle’s 2010 survey, climbing above Zurich and Copenhagen in second and third places. The magazine praises Helsinki for “its fundamental courage to rethink its urban ambitions, and for possessing the talent, ideas and guts to pull it off”.
“We decided it was time for a new strategy,” says Tyler Brûlé, Monocle’s editor-in-chief, explaining how the survey shifted its emphasis this year. “The 2011 results focus not only on the nuts and bolts of the city, but also on the end product.” Quality of Life gives recognition for cities that don’t shut down at 10pm, for their balance between old-fashioned architecture and forward planning, and “ongoing criteria such as the amount of outdoor seating, green space and hours of sunshine”.
“Helsinki is on a roll,” says Brûlé. “Crime is low, unemployment rates sound, the education system world class, and the city’s food culture is thriving. Entrepreneurship and innovation is present in a young, skilled and technically proficient business culture. And the city’s hardware generally manages to perform like a dream.”
Launched in February 2007, Monocle is a premium media brand with magazine, web, broadcast and retail divisions and focusing on global affairs, business, culture and design.
Helsinki on a roll
By Tim Bird, June 2011
Photos by Amanda Soila