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.