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, firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.
ASUTUT researchers Tapio Kaasalainen and Taru Lehtinen with colleagues from TAU Civil Engineering and Tampere University of Applied Sciences have published a new paper titled ‘Architectural window design and energy efficiency: Impacts on heating, cooling and lighting needs in Finnish climates’ in the Journal of Building Engineering. The presented research explores the energy use effect that various window related design decisions have, alone and combined with each other, highlighting the importance of a holistic design approach. The paper is freely available until December 17th 2019 from the following address:
The University awarded €20,000 seed funding related to Sustainable Welfare Systems to support our interdisciplinary collaborative research project looking at ways to reimagine social futures for independent living for the ageing population in the Nordic countries.
ASUTUT are a small, yet fundamental part of the interdisciplinary team in which we provide expertise in elderly housing design aspects, and are co-developing the research project with Tampere University colleagues in solar cells technology, social psychological field study, and nursing studies, and others outside of TAU. The seed funding is in support of developing larger funding bids and to support our interdisciplinary collaboration, as well as establishing collaborations with other Nordic experts in this area.
So watch this space!
Please come and join us! https://www.atut.fi/asutut
We invite ATUT delegates, and others, to a pre-symposium conversation about recently finished and ongoing research projects related to aspects of sustainable housing design and architecture. This will take place on the afternoon of October 2nd, starting at 2pm promptly.
Venue: Kampusklubi Workshop-center (in KampusAreena; take lifts to 5th floor, between 13.45 to 14:15pm, to private members area.*)
Following projects will be presented:
14:00 - 14.25 KARKIT Project and its Approach to Affordable Housing - Jyrki Tarpio
14:30 - 14:55 Architectural Design and Energy Efficiency – Findings from the COMBI Project - Tapio Kaasalainen
15:00 - 15:25 A Cookbook for Agile Housing - An Application Developed in Multidisciplinary DAC (Dwellers in Agile Cities) Research Project - Jyrki Tarpio
15:30 - 15:55 Nordic Sustainable Architecture by transnational researchers Elizabeth Donovan and Ula Kozminska (Aarhus school of Architecture, Denmark), with Sofie Pelsmakers (Tampere University, Finland)
16:00 - 16:25 Urban Nature in the Finnish Context - Laura Uimonen
The conversation will be followed by an Urban Nature Walk guided by Laura Uimonen, starting no later than 16:45 (unless weather events prevent us).
* if any access issues to the top floor on KampusAarena, please text Sofie Pelsmakers on +358 (0) 50 4478491
Collaborative research project DAC (Dwellers in Agile Cities) was awarded Tampere University Societal Impact award in September 2019. ASUTUT researchers Jyrki Tarpio and Katja Maununaho were involved. See more here.
Come study with us! An International Masters Programme in Sustainable Architecture at Tampere University in Finland.
On 23rd April, (13:00-16:00), Dr Jyrki Tarpio will present the Agile Living Cookbook web-application. It is a freely available idea and data bank that serves the design and development of urban modern living (in Finnish). The Agile Living Cookbook aims to capture what the ways are to produce urban solutions that respond to different needs and enable residents to participate.
Location: Music Center, Terassilämpiö, Mannerheimintie 13 A, Helsinki
Sign up here and download the program here.
Further information: email@example.com
On Tuesday 14.05 (10.00-17:30) DAC researchers (Dwellers in agile cities) welcome you to the project's ending conference "Sustainable Urbanization - bridging development and growth, research funded by the Academy of Finland.
Location: Aalto University, Main Building Dipoli, Auditorium, Helsinki
See the full program here (pdf) and for registration here
Taru Lehtinen has been invited to hold an interactive workshop on "Architectural spatial design solutions for sustainability" at the SBE19 Sustainable Built Environment conference, Helsinki, Finland, 23.5.2019 (15:30pm). She will be joined by Dr Sofie Pelsmakers.
See you there!