Living in Tapiola is a point of pride for people here. Tapiola is beautiful, pleasant, and ever changing. If you ask someone here where they live, they'll say Tapiola, not Espoo.
Tapiola is a place built up from scarcity and by idealistic perseverance. The area suffered from a housing crisis after the Second World War, but that didn't stop its populace from living out their dreams.
The story of Tapiola really begins with a visionary judge called Heikki von Hertzen, who as the chair of the Housing Foundation started to plan out his idea of a quintessential "garden city" on the grounds of the old Hagalund mansion. As Finnish urban planning legend Otto Ivar Meurman once said, the task was not to bring "parks into the city", but "the city into a park". Tales from the era still live on about a ban on cutting down trees, and how green spaces such as Loimuniitty and Silkkiniitty were fiercely defended even in times of budgetary pressure.
Tapiola was shaped by some of the finest minds in Finnish design and architecture. Buildings were drawn by a true who's-who of professionals such as Alvar Aalto, Aulis Blomstedt, Viljo Rovell, and Raili and Reima Pietilä; the church and the multi-purpose WeeGee house was penned by Aarne Ruusuvuori, and the de facto center with its towers and outdoor pools was designed by Aarne Ervi, who was responsible for the final touches that make Tapiola what it is today. Finland's first ever shopping mall was erected in Tapiola, and named Heikintori after the pioneer spirit of Mr. von Hertzen.
In recent years the construction of Tapiola has surged on, especially after the long-awaited opening of the westward-extended metro line in 2017. Commercial services and restaurants are multiplying, but cultural phenomena are also populating the scene. The best in contemporary art can be found in Tapiola's EMMA museum, varied concerts in the Espoo Cultural Centre, and interesting spectacles in the Espoo Theater. Tapiola is also known for its schools, including the Tapiola High School, whose academic and architectural feats are both highly praised.
Tapiola's charm is still in its sense of human scale, a kind of 1950s and 60s home town aesthetic. Walking around Otsonlahti bay, paddleboarding or ice skating on the Keskusallas pool, and catching a film in Kino Tapiola are highlights of the kind of garden city so many have worked to create.