Espoo started to grow vigorously in the 1940s and 1950s, and developed from a rural, agricultural commune to a city with bustling business, service and industrial sectors. In 1963, Espoo became a borough and in 1972, a city. Rapid urbanisation and swelling population translated into new construction across Espoo – traditional village communities and forests, fields and meadows overgrown with trees and other vegetation were in danger of being overrun by housing development. Residents feared that the city would sacrifice all its lands to block of flats and roads, and disregard the value of city greeneries as important, unspoilt urban oases.
Establishment of Central Park begins
The idea of Central Park was first brought up in the 1970s during master and regional planning. Development of the 1970s nature conservation movement resulted in a people's movement to support Central Park and its status as an official recreational area for the residents of Espoo.
Official planning took time, however. In 1982, the area was divided into two parts: Central Park I and Central Park II. The component master plan of Central Park I was approved by the city council in 1996 and largely confirmed by the Ministry of the Environment in 1997. The Ministry's decision became legally effective in 1999. The component master plan of Central Park II was approved by the City Planning Department in 1993 and by the city council in 2004. Once an appeal concerning the council's decision had been rejected by the Helsinki Administrative Court, the plan became legally effective in 2006.
First nature gate in Suna
In 2012, Espoo was named the world design capital together with Helsinki, Vantaa, Lahti and Kauniainen. The city decided to celebrate the occasion by launching the Central Park Rusetti project, which aimed to promote the park as an excellent outdoor area and a valuable nature site.
Together with the Laurea University of Applied Sciences and the Omnia Joint Authority of Education, the city declared a logo and nature gate design competition, which gave a new look to Central Park signs and major entrance ways. In spring, the first gate was made by Omnia students and erected by the city in Suna. Once finished, visitors will be welcomed with a total of ten nature gates in different parts of the park.
During the world design capital year, the nature and exercise opportunities offered by the Central Park were promoted with a brochure, nature events, campaigns and excursions intended for the whole family. The Rusetti project was a joint venture between Espoo Environment Department, Laurea's and Omnia's Koulii project and its pilot People make Suurpelto, Virho ry, Technical Centre, and City of Espoo Sports Services.