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Helsinki addresses the visual impact of 5G

Helsinki launches contest to ensure 5G hardware doesn’t blight the cityscape


The City of Helsinki, along with Nokia and Elisa, is looking for a standard model design for 5G base stations that will be deployed in the city.

Like many cities, Helsinki wants to capitalise on the benefits of 5G, such as faster connection speeds, larger data transmission capacity, decreased energy consumption from networks, and the ability to gather and use diverse sensor data more extensively.

However, 5G roll-out requires a denser network of base stations and in a multi-operator environment each network operator needs its own base station, so Helsinki is also keen to ensure that this hardware densification doesn’t compromise the city landscape.

The City plans to reserve specific areas for several base stations but notes: “The appearance of the complex of several base stations should be harmonious, which is very challenging in terms of design. Although 5G technology has advanced in leaps and bounds, efforts to align these requirements and opportunities externally to the urban landscape have been rare.”

Seeking solutions


Helsinki has launched a competition in collaboration with Ornamo Art and Design Finland to find an "elegant standard model" for 5G base stations.

A statement from the City notes: “We are [looking] for both a model that attaches itself to existing city infrastructure as well as a standalone model. The goal is that base station design seems as a natural part of the surrounding city environment. It considers the diversity of both citizens and the city environment and yet is mouldable according to the needs of varying settings.”


Designers are being asked to design for the Kansalaistori Square area of Helsinki initially due to the representative challenges it offers.


"The goal is that base station design seems as a natural part of the surrounding city environment."


The deadline for entries is November 18, 2018. The top five entries will be put up for a public poll and the three most popular entries will be announced in January 2019. The winners will share €35,000 in prize money.


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