When artist meets urban planner

When artist meets urban planner

Finnish architect and visual artist Maija Kovari brings together art and urban planning spiced with empathy, connection, and good stories.


Maija Kovari is on a quest: Art in public spaces should inspire people to interact and find common values.

Urban planning enhanced with contemporary art can make our cities feel more like home. “Art should not only be entertainment for urban spaces. Cities are our shared spaces so the art in them should have a meaning to all of us,” Kovari explains.

Kovari is behind one of Finland’s biggest permanent environmental works of art called Seven Steps to Save the Ocean. Located in Finnish Lapland, the artwork tells a story of climate change through seven sentences.

She would like to see artists working closely with city planning teams, but this level of collaboration is still all too rare. “If you bring an artist to the urban planning process, you will get a story because artists are storytellers. And everybody needs a good story,” she says.

Kovari’s fresh approach and playful humour can also be enjoyed on the façade of a new residential home in the city of Tampere designed for elderly people with memory loss. The artwork consists of a giant “shopping list” that includes the essentials of life: bread, coffee, fruit, walks, and hugs.

Text Carina Chela
Photos Jasmin Rauha