Innovative Villages in Finland

The whole of Finland is predominantly rural (OECD). Finland is the most sparsely populated country in the EU with only about 16 inhabitants per km2 (as in Central Finland).

The structure of a typical village in Finland differs from many countries: the houses are usually situated in a large area, the distances between houses can be long and the population density is low. In the Lakeland Finland the lakes may have formed the villages into long rows of farms and houses along the shoreline. The municipal centres are more coherent.

In Central Finland rural communities working with Innovative Village are situated in the Northern part of the region (LAG Viisari) and around the regional capital Jyväskylä (LAG JyväsRiihi), see the villages on the map.

Read more information about the project in Central Finland.


1. Konginkangas

A former independent rural municipality joined the industrial Äänekoski town in 1993. The whole community has 1480 inhabitants of which 520 live in the village service centre situated by the Highway E4. About 50 small businesses. In summer the holiday residents double the amount of villagers. The six small villages of Konginkangas have formed an active common village association (action group). Area of LAG Viisari.

Konginkangas has run an intensive series of idea workshops with good results. In this project the villagers have developed their harbour, the area of Lintulahti, and a pop-up Christmas shop. New ideas for the summer festival and creating village videos with iPads will be tested in 2014.

More info


2. Sumiainen

A former independent municipality joined Äänekoski town in 2007. About 1270 inhabitants of which 440 in the village service centre. 60 small businesses. Plenty of holiday residents in summer. The village centre is situated in a beautiful, protected cultural scenery and on a protected sand ridge. The villagers have a reputation of being “suitably crazy” - wild ideas are to be expected. Area of LAG Viisari.

In Sumiainen we have tested a concept of Christmas Village. Also an exhibition about the village, a new product for tourism and a new broshure are being made in Innovative Villaga project.

More info


3. Pylkönmäki

An idyllic rural municipality with a strong tradition of cooperation joined the small Saarijärvi town in 2009. Now the five old, small villages of the former Pylkönmäki municipality have formed a common Pylkönmäki village association Pylkön Ääni – 'The Voice of Pylkönmäki'. Ca. 850 inhabitants, about 60 small companies, and 400 holiday houses. Area of LAG Viisari.

In Pylkönmäki the project has helped in collecting the information of all the services available in the area and publishing them in the internet as well as in a broshure in connection of testing a village service phone. At the same time other marketing material has been made and a disc golf course has been opened.

More info

Hirvaskangas area

4. Hirvaskangas area: Kangashäkki and Koivisto

Hirvaskangas used to be a very small village between the towns of Jyväskylä and Äänekoski. Then came the Highway E4, the service station that grew into a commercial centre, and the big plans of the municipalities. Now the area is growing fast with plenty of new inhabitants building their houses in the area. The growth affects two old rural communities, Kangashäkki (pop. 580) in the rural municipality of Uurainen and area of LAG JyväsRiihi, and Koivisto (pop. 520) in the Äänekoski town and area of LAG Viisari.

The two villages have little history of working together because of the municipal border as well as the border of two Leader areas running between them. During the Innovative Village project the villages have started to tackle the problem of missing services for the growing amount of children and young families.

In Innovative Village a study was made to find out what the children really thought and wanted and what was offered to them. Now the villagers are planning a skateboard ramp. In summer there is a sports school for adults and children run by voluntary villagers.


5. Vesanka

Rural Municipality of Jyväskylä merged Jyväskylä town in 2009 making also the village of Vesanka part of the “City”. The change from a traditional 450 year old village into a suburb of the City of Jyväskylä has been rapid. Nowadays there are some 1300 residents in Vesanka, and a village association which has had several own Leader projects. Area of LAG JyväsRiihi.

The villagers wanted to tackle the problems of missing meeting places and problems with the flow of information. Innovative Village idea workshops have created a new concept of Village Cafes as meeting places and as channels to offer services missing in the village. The Facebook page has been reborn and the old, very difficult web pages have been renovated.


6. Säynätsalo

Säynätsalo, Tahiti of the Lake Päijänne (comment of the architect Alvar Aalto), is the island district of the City of Jyväskylä. The community was born at the end of the 19th C around lumber industry. Today the area is home to about 3.500 inhabitants. Säynätsalo was an independent municipality from 1924 till 1993 when it joined the City of Jyväskylä. Säynätsalo is known for its architecture, especially for the works of the famous architect Alvar Aalto. Area of LAG JyväsRiihi.

In Innovative Village the Säynätsalo Heritage Association has created a service called 'Discover Säynätsalo'. The service introduces the best there is in the area and it is meant for both the inhabitants as well as the many tourists visiting Säynätsalo each year. As the it was impossible to build the service into the old net pages the project helped to open new web pages. The project has also helped in developing the local event 'Säynätsalo Days".