Wooden cities represent historically the most distinctive Finnish urban culture. The medieval irregularity is still discernible in the oldest parts of a few cities. Most Finnish cities are, however, built according to the grid plan which was assumed in the 17th century. As a result of fires, fire safety aspects were emphasised, and that influenced the town plans of wooden cities especially in the 19th century. Over ten wooden cities have been preserved. In addition, there are a number of significant wooden city districts.
At the start of the 20th century, the growing cities changed the dominance of wooden architecture which had lasted for centuries. In the biggest cities residential houses made of brick also started to appear. Simultaneously, residential occupancy was reduced in city centres, and they became more administrative and business centres. Gradually, the centres were surrounded by stone structured residential buildings, wooden house districts and from 1950s and 60s onwards suburbs.
The quick shift from wood to the period of industrial element technique and reinforced concrete from 1960s and 70s onwards marked a considerable change in the continuum of Finnish architectural heritage. The reform of urban centres in the 1960s and 70s frequently lead to a broken cityscape and the break down of historical city structure. Traffic proved a problem in areas whose streets and parking places had not been designed for current traffic. Only in recent years have the historical values of architectural surroundings been taken into account in traffic planning.
City of Naantali
Residential area of Viitaniemi in city of Jyväskylä