Sustainable Urbanisation – bridging development and growth 14.5. – welcome!

The conference ‘Sustainable Urbanisation – bridging development and growth’ brings together the ‘Urbanising Society’ research projects funded within the ‘Strategic Research Programme’ 2016‒2019 hosted by the Academy of Finland. These projects have examined diverse dimensions of recent urbanisation and subsequent impacts on Finland and other countries. The conference increases understanding on the topic and makes research knowledge usable in general decision-making processes and in urban and community planning.

Date: Tuesday, 14 May 2019 at 10:00-17:30
Venue: Aalto University, Main building Dipoli, Auditorium: Lumituuli (address Otakaari 24, Espoo, Finland)

At 15:25-16:00, the DAC project will provide an exciting presentation of four citizen-driven scenarios on urbanisation in Finnish ”Urbaani elämä 2030″ – asukaslähtöiset kaupungistumisen skenaariot”.

See the full programme here (pdf).

The conference is free of charge and open to everyone interested in the topic. However, prior registration is required. Participants are invited to register no later than Wednesday 8 May 2019 by using this link.

Registration for students
Please note! Students are welcome to participate in the conference using this student registration link. Registration no later than Wednesday 8 May 2019. Lunch is not included for the students.

More information here. Welcome to the Conference!

Poetics of true sustainability – thoughts after Alvar Aalto Symposium 2018, pt. 1

Alvar Aalto Symposium in Jyväskylä is organized every three years. It is an international forum for architects and other related professions to share the newest discussions of the field.

Four Dwellers in Agile Cities researchers had a special opportunity to present their work and participate to the debates this year. In the two following blogs, we briefly highlight Symposium discussions and intriguing themes.

People, Performance and Poetics

On the days when IPCC gives us alarming reports of global warming we cannot avoid talking about sustainability. Alvar Aalto Symposium brought to light how surprisingly different situations we have in Europe regarding sustainable building. For instance, architect Mikkel Frost from Cebra stated that in Denmark the national norms on sustainable building are set to such a high level that sustainability is for them a self-evident part of the design. It is not a question of experimental building, but of the business as usual.

Beddington zero energy development in London represents the trend of sustainable houses that look like machines. (Photo: Oliver Heath)

Assistant professor Sofie Pelsmakers painted a much more critical picture of the realization of sustainability in the British context. According to her, in many cases, sustainability is just rhetoric. Measuring e.g. energy consumptions show that projects do not achieve their aims. Problem is that we are afraid to admit that our experiments partly fail. Before new honesty in this question, we cannot really start solving the problem.

Pelsmakers also asked why don’t we pay more attention to aesthetic qualities in sustainable solutions? According to her, for truly sustainable architecture we need to include People, Performance and Poetics. With including people she referred to designing for the real needs of the communities. Aspect of performance is about the question above, about honestly looking into the fact whether our experiments work or not. But why poetics? Here she really hit the point. Just browsing through latest architectural magazines illustrates this.

Sustainable buildings often seem like machines of sustainability. Can machine ever be a home for human life?

There also seems to be some kind of a new brutalist aesthetic trend going on. Especially in latest social housing in Europe spaces are mostly raw unfinished concrete with grids of steel, like prisons. From the point of view of sustainability, if we build new houses, they should last long. Houses that are loved last long, they are taken care of. We need poetics. We need beautiful buildings that last time over trends of the magazines, buildings that have the warmth to become homes.

IBeB project in Berlin by Heide & von Beckerath is one to follow the aesthetic trend of brutalism. (Photo: Andrew Alberts)

Does it work?

Anders Tyrrestrup from AART Architects presented a promising practice of their office. They are not afraid of learning from their mistakes. His team is a forerunner in multidisciplinarity. Accompanied by anthropologists, they boldly return to their projects after some years from completion. They ask from the people who live their buildings, whether the design really works or not? They take the question of performance seriously. Of course, this brings to light also the parts where they have succeeded.

With methods of humanist research they make visible the qualities of architecture that engineering sciences cannot measure.

Thus they gain knowledge that can be used as arguments to build these spatial qualities. They can explain why we should choose natural materials to be touched or why we should realize a variety of shared spaces for the differing needs of the people. They are exactly these kinds of unmeasurable qualities that can bring the longed poetics back to modern architecture.

Elina Alatalo

Faculty of Management, University of Tampere

Call for contributions: Reflecting experiments and interventions in environmental social science

Are you working with experiments and interventions in environmental social science? Join this collective reflection event at the 23th annual colloquium of the Finnish Society for Environmental Social Sciences!

NATURECULTURES  – Finnish Society for Environmental Social Sciences YHYS Colloquium November 22–23, 2018
VENUE: University of Lapland, Rovaniemi, Lapland, Sápmi, Finland
PROGRAMME: Keynote speeches, panel discussions, workshops and a pre-conference early career researcher meeting
WHAT TO DO NEXT: Send short synopsis of your argument (max 250 words) by September 3, 2018 – read more below

Workshop: Collective reflection on experiments, experimentation and interventions in environmental social science

Experiments and interventions are being increasingly called upon to test and invent solutions to sustainability problems. They are encouraged as dynamic means to develop new technologies, practices, institutional designs or governance arrangements, but also to invite new actors to their invention. Experimental designs have a long tradition in laboratory sciences. In social sciences action research has applied interventions as a means to address wicked social problems. Lately, in transition studies experiments have been highlighted as an engine for sustainability transitions. Science and Technology Studies remind that experimentation should keep as attentive for new imaginaries. All these various methodological approaches evoke rather different imaginaries for experiments, interventions and their outcomes.

In this working group we want to encourage discussion on the varying uses, motives and outcomes of experiments and interventions in environmental social science. We invite reflections on 1) varying experimental settings, tools, methods and concepts; 2) their different societal outcomes; 3) experiments and interventions as means to mobilize and create new imaginaries and collectives; 4) the changing role of research/ers in experimental settings and in interventions; 5) ethics of experimentation and intervention research.

The working group is organized around reflective talks followed by a collective discussion. Each participant is welcomed to give a reflection on their uses and outcomes of experiments, experimental research or interventions. The reflections can be based upon practical experience or theoretical elaborations. Creative ways to give the talk are welcome. We devote most of the time in the working group to joint discussions.

Please send short synopsis of your argument (max 250 words) to the conveners by 3.9.2018. We aim to compile a commentary on the joint discussion to the

Session Conveners:
Maija Faehnle (, University of Tampere, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE)
Juha Hiedanpää (, Natural Resource Institute, Luke
Minna Kaljonen (, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE)
Helena Leino (, University of Tampere
Taru Peltola (, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE)

More information at the YHYS Colloqvium website.



Alvar Aalto Symposium presents new housing solutions for cities in change

The 14th International Alvar Aalto Symposium ”New housing solutions for cities in change” will focus is on current challenges and possibilities of future housing design and construction in urban areas.  You are warmly welcome to join! The Symposium will be arranged in 30−31 August, 2018 in Jyväskylä, Finland.

The programme will provide food for thinking especially on four specific viewpoints: Cultural variables, Sharing, Adaptability and Emerging typologies. The speakers of the Symposium represent a wide, multidisciplinary group of professionals and experts from the fields related to the symposium theme.

These include four researchers from the Dwellers in Agile Cities project Elina AlataloKatja MaununahoSini Saarimaa and Jyrki Tarpio. They will provide insights to self-organised shared spaces of work, integrated housing upon the diversity of everyday life and urban apartments’ potential from the perspective of personalization. Moreover, they will present the first draft of the Cook Book of Agile Housing, a tool encouraging implementation of promising solutions for spatially flexible, dweller inclusive housing solutions.

The speakers include also Finnish experts Selina Anttinen, Jaakko Blomberg and Antti Lehto, and international experts e.g. Stephen Bates (UK), Damiano Cerrone(Italy), Édouard François (France), Mikkel Frost (Denmark), Ola Nylander(Sweden), Kristien Ring (Germany), Verena von Beckerath (Germany), Anne Kaestle (Switzerland), Peter Pichler (Italy), Jeremy Till (UK) and Elli Mosayebi (Switzerland). Read more about the speakers here.

The chair of the event is Finnish architect, professor Markku Hedman who also is a former leader of one of the sub-projects of the Dwellers in Agile Cities project.

See the whole programme here.  You can also follow the Symposium in Facebook.

Lower-priced early bird tickets are available until June 30, 2018 here.

Alvar Aalto Symposium is an international forum for discussion on contemporary architecture. It is a triennial event, that brings professionals from around the world together to engage in current topics in architecture. The aim is to raise critical discussion about the artistic, social and technical challenges of contemporary architecture.

From ideas competition to citizens’ vision: Planning Hiedanranta in follow-on workshops – Publication now available

The follow-on workshops were held immediately after the Hiedanranta ideas competition in spring 2017.

In the series of four public workshops, the citizens discussed and built on the results of the ideas competition together with architects, planners and researchers. This publication introduces the results of these workshops. The workshops were organized in collaboration with Dwellers in Agile Cities research project, The City of Tampere and The Development Programme of Hiedanranta.

Publication is available here.


Experiments on Urban Participation -seminar 17.4.2018

Experiments on urban participation -seminar discusses topical issues on public engagement in urban environment.

It brings together scholars and practitioners who have been involved in experimenting or studying public engagement with novel and innovative means. The seminar offers a space to reflect the diversity of participation practices and discuss what consequences the new means of public engagement might have on the development of local democracy and urban communities.


Place: Lielahden kartano, Hiedanranta, Lielahdenkatu 10–12, 33400 Tampere

How to get to Hiedanranta.

11-11.15 Liisa Häikiö, Pauliina Lehtonen: Opening words

11.15-11.45 Katarzyna Radzik-Maruszak (University of Maria Curie-Sklodowska): How elected representatives perceive new participatory tools? Research from Poland, Slovenia, Finland and the UK

11.45-12.15 Eeva Luhtakallio (University of Tampere): Seeing, recognizing, valuing: Tracing avoided politics and participation in a Finnish working class suburb

Lunch (self-covered)

13.30-14.00 Salome Tuomaala (University of Tampere): Encouraging community inclusion in a multicultural neighbourhood of Hervanta

14-14.30 Leonardo da Costa Custodio (University of Tampere): Media and participatory practices in Brazilian favelas

14.30-15.00 Pauliina Lehtonen (University of Tampere): Shifting the power to people – experiences from partici-patory budgeting as part of neighbourhood renewal

15.00 Coffee

15.15-16.30 Discussion

Comments from Antti Leskinen (City of Tampere), Helena Leino and Markus Laine (University of Tampere)

Participation is free, coffee included. We kindly ask you to register for the seminar by 5th April.

You can register here.

Seminar is organised by Academy of Finland research projects Dwellers in Agile Cities and Globaalin menetelmän paikalliset tulkinnat.

For more information, please contact: pauliina.lehtonen(AT

On the speciality of Finnish coworking network

About eight years ago, as a group of inspired coworkers, we started an experiment on bottom-up urbanism.

We had our own small coworking community in Helsinki and we wanted to learn to know other similar. We were familiar with only couple of communities established by our old friends, but we also knew that already in our neighborhood there were many more, of which we just did not know exactly. Self-organising coworking communities prefer places of low rents that allow all kinds of experimenting and are thus often hidden in the cityscape. We wanted to test, what would start to happen, if these small pioneering coworking communities would interact more.

Since the beginning as facilitators of this emerging network we learned to lean on openness.

We experiment with a combination of conscious design and letting bottom-up practices emerge (or whither) in the network.

The idea of openness is present in many scales, for example the use of network is open to anyone, free of charge, and our internet service is based on open source platform. We have not had any fixed idea about what the network should become. Even us facilitators hold several concepts of what the network is at the moment. I see that this diversity has been one of the reasons why network has flourished.


Self-organizing coworking communities create places for themselves. (image from Paper Bee by Leena Kisonen)

With a taste of humor, we call the network Mushrooming. Name describes facilitating connections between communities that were earlier isolated from each other, growing mycelium in other words, and seeing what results, what mushrooms, pop up.

Network has grown to biggest cities in Finland having about 8000 users. It has developed to a curious combination of platforms, having the national and international hub at webpage with an AirBNB-like service. Then there are the very important local city groups in Facebook, of which Mushrooming Helsinki is the oldest.

These local groups allow for complex enquiries when in search of new members or space. They also allow all kinds of informal interaction that the communities have come up to, from informing about a special shareable machine to searching urgent help to finish a project. Then there is the forum of face-to-face meetings, varying from specific problem-solving workshops to yearly Open Studios-happenings. This kind of informality is rare in other coworking networks.

Mushrooming has grown special in comparison to other coworking networks abroad. Having just been in a seminar of Urban Studies Foundation in Greece, concentrating on new places of work in city, supported my earlier findings.

In other countries researchers do not really have access to self-organising coworking communities.

I presume it does not mean that they are rare, it just means that they are not networked and thus they are not visible. Coworking trend has developed especially in big metropolitan cities, where the networks on sharing coworking space memberships have been developed as startups. These start-ups have had the need to make profit, thus their networks consist mainly of enterprise-led coworking spaces capable of and interested in paying for networking.

It is difficult to say how much Mushrooming has just brought visible the scene of self-organizing coworkers and how much it has morphed it in its becoming in Finland. Nevertheless, it is an unique situation to have a network of at least 300 coworking communities of which majority is self-organising. Due to openness of the network different kinds of processes of specialization and mixing have occurred. Other coworking networks seem to consist mainly of the usual suspects of creatives or knowledge workers with laptops, while in Mushrooming nowadays the variety of professions reaches from physical doctors to craftsmen, mechanics, cooks and yogis. As the variety of professionals has grown, so has grown the variety of spaces of work available via Mushrooming.


Spaces in Mushrooming have become varied by different professions sharing their environments. (image from Workshop of Rankka by Wang Mandi)

The everyday life in enterprise-led coworking spaces is different to self-organizing coworking communities. Self-organising communities practice shared decision making and problem solving in the intimacy of 2-30 people, while enterprise-led ones collect together hundreds of people to interact with the help of community agent and other payable services. Many of the observations are even opposites to each other. For example in enterprise-led spaces the coworkers usually form professionally homogenous groups of same ages, while self-organizing ones develop surprisingly varied combinations.

With an unusual way of doing research by Mushrooming kind of an experiment of growing a network, we have created in Finland an unique pool from which to draw for a more whole picture of the phenomena of coworking.

The profitability of enterprise-led spaces is noted questionable, while self-organizing communities develop practices to shelter over periods low income. Thus as majority of the international research on coworking has been able to reach only the enterprise-led realities, our understanding of the phenomena remains twisted and partial.

Elina Alatalo

Faculty of Management, University of Tampere

The Future of Refugee Protection and Community Relations in Finland – seminar 1.12.2017

We welcome you warmly to join a seminar on the future of refugee protection and community relations in Finland. The seminar is organized at the University of Tampere on Friday 1st December, 12-17 o’clock. The venue is lecture hall PinniB 1100.

Since 2015 refugee protection, asylum policy, the situation of the undocumented, forced returns and social polarisation have emerged as recurrent topics in the Finnish public and political debates. Societal developments and discourses affect people’s lives and their feelings of security and belonging in many ways. This became blatantly clear after the Turku attack, 18th August 2017. The position and rights of asylum seekers, both those in the process and those with a final negative decision, have become topics of heated debate. Besides newcomers in the society, these debates are reflected also on people who have received a refugee status, or who might have formal citizenship.

The seminar responds to a need to create a space to discuss what is happening in the field of refugee protection and how these developments affect not only individual lives, but also community relations. To explore the connections between these spheres, the seminar brings migrants, asylum seekers and refugees together with decision-makers, professionals and experts on integration and human rights. The talks and commentaries offer insight into how asylum seekers, refugees and migrants claim their place in society. The final session of the seminar addresses the human rights effects of current developments and sheds light on Finnish asylum policy from a human rights perspective.

Please find the detailed program of the seminar below or download it here.

The seminar is free of charge, coffee included. However, due to the limited number of seats and the coffee service, we ask you to register for the seminar by 28th November.  Registration is done by filling in the form. Link here.

The invitation can be distributed forward.

Dwellers in Agile Cities (DAC) is a project funded by the Academy of Finland Strategic Research Council. The seminar has been planned in collaboration with participants in the Mun Kaupunki process where researchers of the DAC project have worked together with young adults with a migrant background to understand what kind of processes, practices and policies affect people’s sense of place and belonging. The aim of the Mun Kaupunki process is to find ways in which the voices of migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees could be considered in fulfilling their welfare needs and desires for inclusion in society.

For more information of the seminar, please contact Eeva Puumala,

Seminar program

12.00-12.15 Opening words
Professor Liisa Häikiö

12.15-13.30 Tampere kaikille? – films and photos by young asylum seekers on their lives in Tampere
Panelists: Rajkumar Sabanadesan (leadership coach), Juhana Suoniemi (member of the Tampere city council), Ahmed Ramzi (Mun Kaupunki -project), Selene Gama (Mun Kaupunki -project)

Chairs: Henna Luoma-Halkola (University of Tampere) and Jarkko Salminen (University of Tampere)

13.30-14.30 Session 1: Refugees and asylum seekers as a part of the Finnish society

Psychiatrist Tapio Halla (Psychiatric policlinic for immigrants, City of Tampere)
“Traumatised refugees and daily functioning”

Project Coordinator Mia Luhtasaari (TRUST Project, Ministry of Justice)
“The official safety discourse’s effects on good relations and attitudes towards immigration”

Chair: Anna-Kaisa Kuusisto (University of Tampere)
Commentator: Ali Amer Hasan (Mun Kaupunki -project)

14.30-15.00 Coffee break

15.00-16.00 Session 2: Human rights, asylum policy and refugee protection

Senior Officer Heidi Lempiö (The Office of the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman)
“Human Rights approach to Refugee Protection and Asylum Policy”

Expert in refugee issues Kaisa Väkiparta (Amnesty International)
“Asylum seekers’ human rights: do they exist in Finland?”

Chair: Eeva Puumala (University of Tampere)
Commentator: Imran Adan (Mun Kaupunki -project)

16.00-16.45 Discussion: towards sustainable policies and good community relations?
Chair: Liisa Häikiö (University of Tampere)

16:45-17:00 Closing words

Workshop with action research: My experience of good/bad residence? – Personal stories inspiring future housing

This workshop by Dwellers in Agile Cities project will inspire future housing with a collaborative drama intervention, zooming into personal follow-up stories of good/bad housing in the cities. Welcome to learn from housing experiences of the others and share your own!

Date: August 18, 2017

There will be two similar workshops, you can chooce the first at 13.00-13.45 or the second at 14.00–14.45.

Venue: Kalliolan Setlementtitalo, Sturenkatu 11, Helsinki

The discussion will be facilitated based on the interests of the participants. Potential themes include different dwellers (age groups, refugees, handicapped, poor, rich, single, families), technology, smart houses, smart transport, artificial intelligence, digitalization, new work, sharing economy, circular economy, material efficiency, climate change, weather, floods, renewable energy, distributed energy production, new planning practices, regulation.

The workshop is a part of YIMBYcon 2017, an international event that brings together urban activists in Helsinki, Finland on August 18-19, 2017. Shortage of urban housing is one of the biggest problems cities and societies face today. The YIMBY (Yes In My BackYard) movement proposes that building more, especially in downtown areas, is a crucial part of the solution.

The conference programme can be found here.

Registration: please mark yourself as participant to the YIMBYcon 2017 Facebook event.

Photo: Jouko Myllyoja

Do you know a good solution for urban housing, working or living? Please tell us!

Innovative and flexible solutions for people’s needs to live and work in cities can be found around the world. Car sharing, co-working, recycling – you name it! Is your city or community implementing a fresh practice that other cities could learn about as well? Please tell us about promising solutions and good practices and help us make the information available for all those who are interested.

The examples are added to this open collection. You are also welcome to comment on the collection document directly.

The collection is a continuously developing tool for understanding and inspiring agile urban development in Finland and elsewhere. We in the Dwellers in Agile Cities project team will use the examples in our research for co-designing solutions especially for Finnish cities.