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Meet Lapinlahti people: Anna Kobierska 

Kuvassa nuori naisoletettu istuu lattialla ja nojaa selällään puiseen oveen.

Hi! I’m Anna, a PhD researcher and a new volunteer in Lapinlahti. I started following the story of Lapinlahti nearly ten years ago, when the vacant former hospital building began to take on a new life.

When I moved to Helsinki, I started spending time in Lapinlahti on summer days and visiting the sauna or the café. In the middle of the bustle of the city, Lapinlahti has felt like a peaceful oasis, even though the uncertain future of the place has been causing turmoil beneath the surface.

Throughout the years the civic action fighting for the future of Lapinlahti has made me more and more interested in the place.

I have long been passionate about self-organisation in urban spaces – the kind of urban development where social capital of places is more valued than economic issues. As an architect, I have seen that self-organised urban development has to often give way in the face of economic pressures.

This also threatens to happen in Lapinlahti. Although Lapinlahti is immensely valuable as it is, most of this value cannot be measured in monetary terms.

From a social and ecological point of view, our cities are being developed unsustainably: inequalities are increasing and planetary limits are being reached. We are facing major pressures for change to address the current crises. For me, places like Lapinlahti represent strongholds of an alternative society that should be cherished and learned from in order to build a more sustainable future.

“I hope to get to know as many people as possible”

I have come to Lapinlahti to learn from the community and use what I have learned in my research. In spring 2024, I started as a PhD researcher in the field of social policy at the University of Tampere. I work as part of the JUSTSPACES research network and the Kone Foundation-funded research project “Space, Justice and Everyday Democracy”. As a researcher, I am interested in how people create social and physical spaces in cities and how they perceive their agency in urban space.

As part of the data collection for my dissertation, I will work as a volunteer in Lapinlahti. I will be also doing participant observation, taking notes and interviewing the local actors. I hope to get to know as many people as possible, hear their stories while also contributing to the area through volunteering.

I will be spending more time in Lapinlahti during spring 2024, so feel free to reach out to me and I will be happy to tell you more about my research. I would especially like to hear from people who would like to be interviewed.

Contact Anna via email: anna.kobierska(at) 

Text: Anna Kobierska
Photos: Veera Kontula

Kuvassa nuori naisoletettu katsoo kameraan ja hymyilee vähän.
Anna Kobierska will be spending more time in Lapinlahti this spring.