In early August, news was picked up related to our latest research on micro-homes in Finland and housing design quality, in Helsingin Sanomat (01.08) and Yle (04.08). ASUTUT researchers Sofie Pelsmakers was interviewed by HS and Jyrki Tarpio by YLE; Prof. Mari Vaattovaara at Helsinki University was interviewed in both news items and is a co-author of our forthcoming paper (accepted and in press) together with Sini Saarimaa. Similar issues and much more is also discussed in Prof. Vaattovaara's co-authored new book (FIN). Further below you can see some points made about the findings in a twitter discussion.
Below is a summary of key points of our findings from a twitter discussion (click to enlarge)
On 28th June 2021, Ellen Forsström writes in Finland's Swedish Hufvudstadsbladet about overheating in Finnish homes based on an interview with Sofie Pelsmakers.
Rough English translation below:
"Finnish houses can not withstand the heat - they are built to keep the heat inside
If you feel that your house or apartment is even warmer than it is outdoors, then you are not wrong. In Finland, people have always invested in building houses that keep the heat in and the cold out, but how does it work when you want to keep the heat out and the cold in instead ? With warmer summers, the shortcomings in the Finnish way of building houses are becoming increasingly clear. People are sweating in their compact city apartments and do not know how to cool them down. Sometimes solutions such as air conditioning or a fan can help with the stack, but it's basically about how buildings are planned.
A group of researchers at the University of Tampere is currently delving into precisely these issues. The researchers also want to find out how to avoid similar problems in the future and what solutions can be applied in older houses.
We in Finland build our houses to keep the heat in, this is a smart way from both an economic and ecological perspective. But as the climate is constantly getting warmer, new solutions must be found for us to cope with the summers, says Sofie Pelsmakers, who leads the research group ASUTUT.
Do not fan the solution of the future
If everyone is to get external equipment to cool down houses that are planned to keep the heat in, we will face two problems: an unreasonable price tag and climate concerns. Air conditioning costs a significant amount, which not everyone can afford. Should the less well-off then suffer more than others from the summer heat? Nature will also suffer if we start consuming the same amount of energy for cooling in the summers as for heating in the winters.
- We can not only turn to technical solutions, we must go to the root of the problem which is how the houses are built, says Pelsmakers
The research group led by Pelsmakers has come up with some long-term solutions that can both be applied in older buildings and come to mind when building new.
- Windows in Finnish houses are the big culprit. They are too small and cannot be opened enough. - Right now, only smaller apartments are being built, in them there are often problems with not being able to have cross-sections. This could be solved with the help of larger windows, says Pelsmakers. She also highlights the issue of shadow. More shade is needed.
- Blinds are the best solution, you should invest in sunscreen that is placed outside the windows. They keep out up to 80 percent of the heat.
- More vegetation next to buildings would also make the situation better, but planting a tree outside your window is not directly the fastest solution, she says.
- In urban planning, green areas should be given priority. Parks or green roofs are good solutions. Next to a park it is always cooler, because the vegetation does not absorb the heat.
Pelsmakers also point out that dark surfaces, such as asphalt or other stone surfaces that are plentiful in cities, absorb heat. Therefore, cities should take the model of the white houses around the Mediterranean and invest in more bright surfaces.
You can read a summary here in FIN, and more here (Heidi Sukanen's masters thesis research) and we are researching this issue in our HOMES4FUTURE project through monitoring and modelling homes and also as part of the Academy of Finland funded RESCUE project.
SOLTECH: Human-centered solar smart technology design for healthy aging’ will develop smart solar technology for healthy aging and has received a major grant of €750,000 of funding from the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation. PI Paola Vivo (Engineering and Natural Sciences), with Johanna Ruusuvuori and Marja Kaunonen (Social Sciences)and Sofie Pelsmakers from ASUTUT. More here about the project
Tampere University awarded two annual prizes for teaching excellence and pedagogical development and three honourable mentions, one of which to Sofie Pelsmakers and Doctoral researcher at Urban Planning Dalia Milian Bernal for the new Sustainable Architecture course.
“The award criteria are annually specified but awarding the prizes is always based on excellently organised and implemented teaching that supports the students’ holistic development and growth,” says Marja Sutela, Vice President for Education at Tampere University.
“This year, the aim was to highlight good virtual teaching practices that deserve to remain in use beyond the pandemic, and to reward pedagogical approaches, practices or courses whose ideas and processes have been refined in a specific way during the period of distance learning,” Sutela adds.
The three year interdisciplinary project, 'Real Estate and Sustainable Crisis management in Urban Environments (RESCUE)', led by Assistant Professor in Real Estate Economics Saija Toivonen at Aalto University has been awarded funding. This is a really important and timely project that looks at the crisis preparedness (e.g. pandemics, ageing population, climate change) of living and working environments and community infrastructures through a multi-disciplinary lens and at different scales. Learning and mapping best practices from Finland and other countries to then propose policies and designs and systems that support crisis preparedness better.
We are honoured to be part of this project with other collaborators:
Aalto University: Kimmo Lapintie, Vitalja Danivska, Johanna Lilius, Laura Arpiainen and Anahita Rashidfarahoki
Turku University: Wilenius Markku and Sirkka Heinonen
Tampere University: the ASUTUT research group with Sofie Pelsmakers as PI, as well as Suvi Nenonen and Jenni Poutanen.
Over the past few years, there has been a heated debate over the quality of Finnish housing construction. The discussion has gained new momentum in the cross-pressure of rapid urbanization, the growing efficiency of housing production and the increasingly diverse needs of citizens. However, the debate is mainly conducted only from the perspective of experts.
Resident perspective is much needed to this discussion and searched for in the project ´Miksi Turkuun?´ which is carried out in interdisciplinary collaboration between the researchers from University of Tampere's School of Architecture and Faculty of Management along with the University of Turku's Faculty of Social Sciences, Sociology.
Sini Saarimaa together with her project colleagues give shades to the expert-driven discussion in the article published now in The Finnish Journal of Urban Studies. The article called ´The Ingredients of Attractive Housing´ describes residents’ views on quality in housing and contributes not only to housing research but also to the field of housing design. The work is based on the theory of affordances, which was applied in the analysis of focus group interviews guided by participant-produced photographs.
The material was collected in the ´Reframing City Districts’ -project and interpreted from a design perspective in the ongoing ´Miksi Turkuun?´-project. Based on these results, new focus group discussions have been conducted at the turn of the year 2019-2020, that refine the themes described in the article and go deeper into the topic. More related research is therefore on its way.
A short blog about the findings is available here and the article can be found here.
Contact Sini Saarimaa for more!
Tampere University Senior Lecturer Helena Leino and Asutut researcher Katja Maununaho argue in Helsinging Sanomat (12.20.2020) that 'Change is needed in urban planning processes, expertise and tools. (in Finnish)
They especially argue for a more process oriented perspective in urban design, in order to stand on the acute challenges such as urbanization, climate change, and biodiversity loss. It should be possible to reassess social and environmental sustainability objectives as circumstances change. And it should be possible to emphasize these aspects instead of provisions relating to physical form only.
A brief summary of Nordic Housing Day to Asutut web pages
CBA (Centre for Housing Architecture) of Chalmers University of Technology will arrange Nordisk bostadsdag (the Nordic Housing Day) on November the 6th, 2020. In the on-line event, current developments and trends of housing design and production in four Nordic countries will be discussed by researchers. As one member of invited Scandinavian academics, our post-doc researcher Jyrki Tarpio will give a presentation on the current developments of housing in Finland. The idea of the event is to get to know better what is going on in this field in Nordic societies, to acquire knowledge about similarities and differences, and to learn in a positive but critical spirit from each other.
The event is hosted by prof. Ola Nylander of Chalmers. The presentations will be held in Swedish or English. Additional information of the Day and registration, see:
The Sustainable Housing Architecture Research Group is part of an ongoing project to look at the attractiveness of urban living from a resident perspective in an urban context. Project focus group interviews have been successfully completed and analysis is currently being promoted. The research project is funded by the Turku City Research Program and the YH Foundation of Southwest Finland, which is the result of interdisciplinary collaboration between the University of Tampere's School of Architecture and Management and the University of Turku's sociology researchers.
Finnish version here
The current construction trend favours small apartments in and around city centers. At the same time, declining housing sizes and increased efficiency targets for housing construction have contributed to the qualitative characteristics of living environments, buildings and facilities. One may rightly ask whether the planning currently meets the wishes of different groups of residents? The multidisciplinary joint project of the universities of Tampere and Turku addresses this issue by examining the attractiveness of urban living from the perspective of the resident.
Although much research has been done on housing, there has been surprisingly little interest in residents ’ideas. It has also been seen as a problem that, although housing preference research has been conducted extensively, its results often remain too rough and general, making it difficult to utilize in planning. The joint project of the universities of Tampere and Turku developed renewed ways of producing information on resident perspectives. The study targeted five population groups. For each group, the process of participating in the study was three-step. First, the groups responded to a preliminary survey that examined, in addition to background information, the twists and turns of housing history and the reasons for the current housing choice. This was followed by two focus group discussions for the groups, which were thematically divided into a discussion on living environments and a discussion on housing and space.
In the focus group discussions, residents were more free to perceive the values of housing through photographs and videos of the target areas selected for the study. The discussions on residential construction and space utilized the floor plan material of the stimulus dwellings produced specifically for the needs of this project, with 3D walkthroughs of these dwellings.
In this way, information was obtained that linked residents ’appreciations to the spatial characteristics of the habitat in a way that benefited the design. The method also allowed for a more detailed discussion of why some spatial features becomes significant in housing. The research project collected rich data, the analysis of which is currently progressing.
Dissertation researcher Sini Saarimaa, email@example.com, 0400811923
Why Turku? The attractiveness of urban living from a resident perspective; www.utu.fi/miksiturku
Humans are impacting and changing the climate, and in turn the changing climate is impacting our entire society and natural world, as we have never seen before. Buildings are responsible for around 40% of the EU's energy use with an associated 36% of CO2 emissions. Our collective failure over the past decades to design and construct buildings with a lower carbon footprint has significantly contributed to the current climate crisis and buildings are now being designed to be zero carbon.
As such this panel discussion is set against the background of the EUs target of 80% or more energy savings and carbon neutrality by 2050; with Finland aiming for this by 2035. Innovation, and inter-disciplinary collaboration is key to transform these hopes into realities. Yet there is a significant skills and competency gap in built environment education and practice related to sustainable design, highlighted for example by the architecture profession’s own 'architects declare' and 'architectural education’ declaring a biodiversity and climate emergency.
At the same time the question also arises whether carbon neutrality ‘is enough’ on its own, and whether – and how– we go beyond this? What is a carbon neutral society if, for example, biodiversity declines further, increased climate and social injustices arise, health and well-being are adversely affected, and future spatial and climate change adaptability and our global responsibilities are neglected?)
This panel brings together stakeholders from different interrelated fields, to openly discuss, brainstorm, radically re-think and inspire each other about the needed innovation, in response to the climate crisis and its implications.
10 CONFIRMED PANELISTS (who will take on what 'needs to happen' and 'what is being done'):
Anna Tapio - CEO Housing Fair Finland
Juha Kostiainen - Executive Vice President, Urban Development, YIT Corporation
Markku Hedman - Director General of Building Information Centre
Kimmo Lylykangas - Professor of Architecture, head of unit at TalTech University
Lars-Erik Mattila - Helsinki based Architect
Laura Inha - Sustainable Tampere 2030 programme, City of Tampere
Matti Kuittinen - Prof. Aalto University, Ministry of Environment
Miimu Airaksinen - CEO of the Finnish Association of Civil Engineers RIL
Salla Jokela - Lecturer in Sustainable Urban Development, Tampere University
Sofie Pelsmakers - Assistant Professor Sustainable Housing design, Tampere University (event Chair)
SIGN UP here (free)
23.09. 4pm -6pm Helsinki time / 2-4pom UK time
The online event will also be recorded.
The Finnish Foundation for Technology Promotion (Tekniikan Edistämissäätiö, TES) has awarded an encouragement grant to ASUTUT member Tapio Kaasalainen. The grant was awarded for the research topic: 'The spatial refurbishment and repurposing needs and potential in the Finnish apartment building stock to facilitate sustainable, inclusive, and efficient housing solutions for the ageing population'. This topic is the focus of Tapio's ongoing doctoral dissertation research.
The latest article included in the dissertation, Existing apartment buildings as a spatial reserve for assisted living has just been published open access and can be viewed here. More information about the research can be found in another ASUTUT news item here.
Populations around the world are ageing rapidly, the Finnish high among them. While this reflects positive developments in longevity, it also sets great demands for providing suitable housing. Firstly, there is a growing need for accessible dwellings, which many similarly ageing housing stocks fail to meet. Secondly, an especially significant increase is happening in the proportion of the oldest old, people over 85 years of age. As a result, intensive sheltered care—housing with care staff available around the clock—is ncreasingly needed to care for those in poorest health. At the same time, in many countries urbanization makes new construction a largely infeasible solution, both ecologically and economically. Often the fastest graying areas are the ones which already have an overabundance of dwellings, especially in public housing—just not the right kind. In Finland, as in e.g. Sweden, this most notably concerns the vast 1970s apartment building stock. Compounding the accessibility issues and general renovation need in these buildings, they also house a disproportionate share of older people, many of whom have lived in the same apartment for decades. Thus changes are necessary to allow successful ageing at home in older people’s familiar living environments, as well as to enable sustainable use of the existing housing stock.
Research by ASUTUT member Tapio Kaasalainen and colleagues addresses the above joint challenges of population and housing stock ageing from the perspective of spatial renovation potential. During the initial stages of the work, a typology of apartment layouts was formed. These confirmed the presumed spatial homogeneity of the stock and illustrated the range of designs found [1, 2]. Eighteen plan layouts were found to cover over 80% of the studied sample, corresponding to approximately 480 000 dwellings in the contemporary stock. The six most common layouts alone reached a figure of 65%, or roughly 390 000 dwellings. A concurrent survey of the structural properties of these buildings also revealed similar uniformity in the construction systems used .
Notably for renovation, the combination of highly repetitive layouts, dimensioning, and structural solutions enables identifying widespread issues and possibilities in the stock through a relatively limited set of representative cases. Taking advantage of this, it was possible to map the recurring accessibility issues in the most common apartment types, and produce a set of generalizable accessibility improvement models to address them . A test application of these to a random set of actual apartments showed high potential for the concept, particularly if supplemented with additional plans for especially difficult situations . Thanks to the typological approach used, this provided strong evidence that the vast majority of the studied stock is very reasonably adaptable to suit the needs of older people living at home.
As mentioned in the beginning, population ageing is also bringing on a growing need for intensive sheltered care. In Finland this is mainly arranged as group homes, in which a cluster of small apartments shares a collection of immediately connected common spaces such as a kitchen and a living room . Noting the excess housing volume already present in many of the quickest ageing areas, the issues with relying on new construction alone are clear. Moreover, most group home residents suffer from some degree of dementia. This makes moving from one’s familiar living environment to a group home elsewhere problematic, even more so than it already is for many who have stayed put for up to decades.
Converting (parts of) existing apartment buildings into group homes could offer a way to both make better use of buildings with vacancies and avoid long distance relocations in old age. Furthermore, this increased use might enable better upkeep of properties otherwise at risk of dilapidation. Recent work comparing the layouts and dimensioning of typical apartment building floors to current group home designs indicates such repurposing to be a highly viable option spatially . Due to the relatively generous room sizes of the discussed era, few changes to load bearing structures would be needed to accommodate modern group home designs. Renovation based designs would often end up more spacious than is typical for new construction. However, considering how cramped many of the existing group homes studied were, this could be considered a positive for usability and quality of life. Moreover, even less efficient utilization of otherwise obsolete spaces has clear benefits over continued disuse.
In conclusion, both sustainable housing practice and meeting the needs of the ageing population require addressing the vast number of existing buildings. Although the repetitiveness of 1970s mass housing is rarely viewed favorably, this is one instance where it is beneficial. With recurring designs and issues, widely applicable solutions are also possible. To develop these and bring them into practice, it is vital to be aware of the spatial reserve present in these buildings, as well as the potential this reserve holds. With such knowledge the existing buildings can be taken into consideration as not only what they are, but also what they could be.
The research group were invited to write about issues in housing design brought to the fore even more due to the pandemic for a Buildings & Cities commentary. For example daylighting and window locations are crucial to support adaptable layouts, and urban resilience is needed to support high quality living environments. At the same time the pandemic shows that we need to re-think regulations and standards, even more so. with climate change as another challenge that urgently needs to be addressed.
Jyrki Tarpio also features in Helsingin Sanomat (03.06.2020) reflecting on housing design quality.
The Sustainable Housing Design research group actively reach out to the architecture community to open up and influence debate outside the academic circle, and to make an impact and difference in the real world.
For example, Katja Maununaho discussed the pandemic lockdown and housing quality here (and here) while Sini Saarimaa discussed how daylighting affects the perception of spaciousness in housing. Recently Tapio Kaasalainen was also commissioned to interview Sofie Pelsmakers for SAFA about a sustainable tomorrow. You can read about it here and here (in Finnish) and a longer (unedited version) in English here.
In place of the postponed yearly Futurespect SAFA seminar, join us on 20th-22nd May for a mini lecture series to discuss sustainable housing issues and solutions and how we can overcome barriers together! Aiming for a Sustainable Tomorrow - Miniluentosarja verkossa Sofie Pelsmakersin kanssa - Suomen Arkkitehtiliitto https://buff.ly/2SuNAlE
Aiming for a sustainable tomorrow:
part 1: current state of housing design (pre-recorded)
part 2: exemplary international housing design examples (pre-recorded)
part 3: overcoming challenges together (live short talk, and 'pub' discussion' after work)
As cities condense, everyday living practices and needs for social interaction are changing. For example, aging, the day-to-day management of families with children, and the challenges of young and elderly people’s independence and perceived loneliness are socially significant topical themes that lead to the development needs of living spaces and the living environment. At present, the field of urban housing is shifting (e.g. working from home, living environment diversification, changing family structures etc.), with other significant shifts expected in the future in response to for example the climate crisis. There are more and more people living alone, and social disadvantages related to this might be minimised by various forms of communal housing. Clearly, housing is a key way to respond to people’s needs as members of society. The spatial and functional characteristics of the living environment affect how the resident is able to function in everyday life. At a general level, residents need opportunities for voluntary action (autonomy needs), and social participation (social needs); both dimensions are significantly related to residents’ well-being and health. All of these issues set new requirements for housing infrastructures and their functions, use and design of both the living environment and the dwellings themselves.
To that end ASUTUT, the Sustainable Housing Design research group are investigating the 6,500 dwelling stock owned by YH Kodit for a review of how their existing housing environment can meet the current challenges and future challenges. The goal is to produce information related to the physical environments and services of housing that supports YH Kodit in improving the quality of life of their residents. We will investigate multiple interconnected areas of the living environment in the project: 1) shared spaces, 2) private dwellings, 3) the adaptability of the housing stock, and 4) the potential for design adaptations and renovations. The research team brings comprehensive knowledge of the above factors and future prospects of change in Finnish urban housing as well as housing construction national practices, guidelines and legislation. The team approaches the needs of the everyday life of the residents and their possibilities through a dynamic perception of needs. Housing stock analysis, and qualitative participatory methods and design-based testing are used to investigate the current status of the YH Kodit stock, examining the use and functioning of private, semi-public and public spaces and the potential of buildings to adapt to changing individual and socio-cultural situations with lessons for the planning of new construction.
This 2 year project is funded by YH Kodit.
Researchers: Katja Maununaho, Tapio Kaasalainen, Sini Saarimaa, Elina Luotonen, Jyrki Tarpio, Sofie Pelsmakers.
Kaupunkien tiivistyessä asumisen arkielämän käytännöt ja sosiaaliseen kanssakäymiseen liittyvät tarpeet ovat muutoksessa. Esimerkiksi ikääntyminen, lapsiperheiden arjen hallinta, nuorten sekä toisaalta ikääntyneiden itsenäisyyden haasteet tai koettu yksinäisyys ovat yhteiskunnallisesti merkittäviä ajankohtaisia teemoja, jotka johtavat asuintilojen ja asuinympäristön kehitystarpeisiin. Kaupunkiasumisen kenttää ravisuttaa tänä päivänä ja tulevaisuudessa myös ilmastokriisi, yhteiskunnassamme korostunut yksilöllistyminen sekä digitalisaation vauhdittama työn ja toimintatapojen murros, joka johtaa esimerkiksi etätyöskentelyn moniin muotoihin. Eräänä keskeisenä asuntokuntien ja perherakenteiden muutoksena yksin asuvia on yhä enemmän. Yksin asumisen haittapuolistakeskustellaan jo yhteiskunnallisesti ja yhteisöllisen asumisen eri muodot ovat nousseet kiinnostaviksi asumisen mahdollisuuksiksi. Asuminen on keskeinen keino vastata ihmisten tarpeisiin yhteiskunnan jäseninä. Asuinympäristön tilalliset ja toiminnalliset ominaisuudet vaikuttavat siihen, miten asukas pystyy arjessaan toimimaan. Yleisellä tasolla asukkaat tarvitsevat mahdollisuuksia omaehtoiseen toimintaan (autonomiantarpeet), ja sosiaaliseen osallistumiseen (sosiaaliset tarpeet). Molemmat ulottuvuudet liittyvät merkittävällä tavalla asukkaiden hyvinvointiin ja terveyteen. Kaikki edellä mainitut tekijät asettavat uudenlaisia vaatimuksia sekä asuinympäristön että asuntojen tiloille, toiminnallisuuksille ja suunnittelulle.
Edeltäviin teemoihin kytkeytyen kestävän asuntosuunnittelun tutkimusryhmä ASUTUT tutkii YH Kotien omistuksessa olevaa 6500 asunnon rakennuskantaa selvittääkseen, miten olemassa oleva asuinympäristö pystyy vastaamaan asumisen tämänpäivän ajankohtaisiin haasteisiin ja tulevaisuuden muutostekijöihin. Tavoitteena on tuottaa fyysisiin ympäristöihin ja asumisen palveluihin liittyvää tietoa, joka YH Koteja asukkaiden jokapäiväisen elämänlaadun parantamisessa. Hankkeessa tarkastellaan useita toisiinsa kytkeytyviä asuinympäristön osa-alueita: 1) yhteistiloja, 2) yksityisiä asuntoja, 3) asuntokannan joustavuutta ja 4) rakennuskannan mukautumispotentiaalia. Tutkimusryhmän kokoonpanossa kattava asiantuntemus edeltävistä tekijöistä yhdistyy tietouteen suomalaisen urbaanin asumisen tulevaisuudennäkymistä ja asuinrakentamisen kansallisista käytännöistä, ohjeistuksesta ja lainsäädännöstä. Tutkimus lähestyy asukkaiden arkielämän tarpeita ja niiden toteutumismahdollisuuksia rakennetussa ympäristössä dynaamisen tarvekäsityksen kautta. YH Kotien asuinrakennuskannan yksityisten, puolijulkisten ja julkisten tilojen käyttöä ja käyttöpotentiaalia sekä rakennusten kykyä mukautua muuttuviin yksilöllisiin ja sosiokulttuurisiin tilanteisiin tarkastellaan rakennuskanta-analyysin, laadullisen yhteiskehittämisen ja kokeellisen suunnittelun avulla. Tämän myötä tuotetaan hyödynnettävää tietoa sekä korjaus- että uudisrakentamiseen.
This 2 year project is funded by YH Kodit.
Researchers: Katja Maununaho, Tapio Kaasalainen, Sini Saarimaa, Elina Luotonen, Jyrki Tarpio, Sofie Pelsmakers.
Hot off the press!
SOFIE PELSMAKERS has been commissioned for the 3rd Edition of her Environmental Design Pocketbook; 2 new chapters will be included, alongside a general update of each chapter, and a restructuring of the book content. Thank you to the 11 (!) anonymous reviewers for their support and constructive suggestions for the next edition!
Sofie Pelsmakers, with Elizabeth Donovan and Ula Kozminska at the Aarhus School of Architecture and Aidan Hoggard at the Sheffield School of Architecture have just been commissioned by the RIBA to write a 'climate emergency' architecture student curriculum' due in 2021 - we know it cannot come soon enough.
Sofie is also working with Judit Kimpian and Hattie Hartman on a book due in 2021 on 'People, Energy, Buildings: Architecture for a changing world'; we are in the final stages of several years of writing!
Finally, Sofie Pelsmakers with Nick Newman from Studio Bark are also working as volume co-editors on a new RIBA journal and sustainable architecture, also due in 2021 - so watch this space!
Our team has been busy writing about their work, while several publications are in press, these ones have been recently published:
Anna Helamaa has had her paper published on: From Marginal to Mainstream? Analysing Translations between the Collaborative Housing Niche and the Established Housing Sector in Finland In : BUILT ENVIRONMENT. 45, 3, p. 364-381 18 p.
Tapio Kaasalainen and Taru Lehtinen were co-authors of Architectural window design and energy efficiency: Impacts on heating, cooling and lighting needs in Finnish climates In : Journal of Building Engineering. 27, 100996.
We are delighted to be working with several great organisations and colleagues to keep making a difference to our living environments, now and in the future! Some of our confirmed collaborations are:
The ASUTUT research group is currently working with sociologists (Hannu Ruonavaara and his team at Turku University, Department of Social Research) and environmental policy researchers (Markus Laine and his team at Tampere university, Faculty of Management) in the research project focusing on the attractiveness of urban housing from the dwellers’ perspective. The research project, entitled Miksi Turkuun?, is part of and funded by the Turku Urban Research Programme. Researchers involved in the project from ASUTUT group are Sini Saarimaa and Jyrki Tarpio, the first of which is responsible of the design and execution of the focus group discussions concerning dwellings and buildings.
The project is divided into three parts. The first part analyzes the housing supply and housing environment types in the Turku region. The second part explores dwellers' needs and wishes targeting both residential area scale and building scale. Based on the results, the project presents recommendations for the development of attractive residences and residential environments.
The focus group discussions of the project are currently underway. In these discussions, people from similar life situations are gathered together to discuss several topics related to experiences and usage of housing environments. More participants are currently sought to some of the project’s focus group discussions, that are held in the beautiful and inspirational environment of Turku Main Library. You can find more information about focus groups and the possibility to participate the research (in Finnish) here.
Although the project takes its first steps, researchers have already published a professional article related to the challenge of using the growing knowledge of dweller preferences in the practice of housing design. Sini Saarimaa's and Niina Nieminen's short article titled “Asukaskeskeisyys asuntorakentamisen haasteena: kommunikatiivisesta kuilusta yhteistyöhön?” (“Dweller-centricity as a challenge in housing: From the communicative gap to collaboration?”) is available from ARAViesti 2/2019 (and below).
ASUTUT researcher Sini Saarimaa participated in the multidisciplinary Finnish Conference of Environmental Sciences, that took place on the 10.-11.12.2019 in Mikkeli. The theme of the conference was the topical Circular Economy and Sustainable Growth. The conference brought together scholars from numerous disciplines, from natural to social sciences, and it included a variety of topics from research on road transport to invasive species and for example various technologies for environmental remediation and toxicity measurement. Researchers, academics, scholars, and other attendees of the conference enjoyed the various perspectives of research presentations, poster sessions, motivational keynote speakers and well-organized dinner celebrations.
The growing understanding of the limited raw materials has shifted the perspective, also in the context of buildings, towards the use of renewable and recycled materials and extending buildings’ life cycles. Hence, the link between circularity and Saarimaa’s research topic, idea of spatial adaptability (i.e. physical space accommodating changing conditions over time) is widely acknowledged. Saarimaa introduced a qualitative way to assess an apartment’s adaptation potential. Also, she demonstrated the model in the context of Finnish apartment buildings and presented their capacity to accommodate dweller-driven changes.
Saarimaa’s presentation underlined, that there are lessons to be learned from our existing housing stock for future developments. For example, the increased efficiency of 21st century’s Finnish apartment buildings (e.g. deeper building frames, lower degree of natural light, etc.) leads to lower ability to accommodate spatial changes unless specific design considerations are taken into account. On the other hand, for example, a structure consisting of load-bearing walls is not an obstacle to adaptability, if other design considerations are included. For this reason, the title of the presentation highlighted that it is wise to look back to see forward: to make wise decisions for the future, we need to know better the performance of the existing built environment.