Working Group 12: Adaptive Handprints and trandisciplinarity


Saija Hollmén (Aalto ARTS), Matleena Muhonen (Aalto ENG)

ADAPTIVE HANDPRINTS working group will presents ongoing trans-disciplinary research and education programmes coordinated by WiTLAB at Aalto University. Topics include case studies and projects on environmental, social and cultural sustainability, cultural adaptability, local participation and co-design. All is focused on the newly developed HANDPRINT approach for sustainable development. “The best one can get with a footprint is no impact at all. The potential of a handprint is unlimited.” (Jon Biemer, 2013) Aalto WiT (World in Transition) LAB is a network of researchers and projects at Aalto University, focusing on resilient communities, humanitarian architecture, sustainable technologies and grass roots action. It supports two educational master’s level programmes; SGT (Sustainable Global Technology) and IoC (Interplay of Cultures) where architecture, engineering, design and business students contribute to sustainable development. Each year, students take part in real-life projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America to study the diverse connections between sustainability, technology, cultural and societal challenges.

The transdisciplinary educational programmes IoC ad SGT aim to:
● give a holistic view to the state of the world and development
● emphasize the role of sustainability and technology in development
● introduce methods applicable into developing world context
● give opportunity to work in multicultural and multidisciplinary working environments
● give practical experiences from international projects with real client / partner
● building the capacity of university students and faculty in partner country to respond to global challenges and the use of problem based learning methodologies (incl. design thinking, human centered design, human rights based approach)

The working group will consist of presentations covering the pedagogical, research and practical work of Aalto WiTLAB with focus on ADAPTIVE HANDPRINTS
– Education: MM & SH present SGT and IoC Programs and ongoing research at WiTLAB
– CBL: Stories from students: presentation of field work and experiences

  1. Interplay of Cultures: Zanzibar Studio. Andrea Esquivel Velasquez and Rosa Väisänen. 

    Interplay of Cultures is a multidisciplinary design studio focusing on architectural design in developing counties. The focus of the course is on community empowerment through participation, sustainable design solutions and culturally knowledgeable architecture.

    The course includes studies on local building traditions and materials, as well as social, economic and climatic characteristics of the local culture. The course aims at providing the students with a wider perspective and understanding of the processes of the architectural practice when working in various cultural contexts.

    In 2018, the course took 13 Aalto students to Zanzibar, to think about housing and public buildings, flooding and resilience, green infrastructure and community engagement through built environment, in collaboration with local residents and city authorities.

  2. Sustainable Global Technologies Studio: Nepali. Martina Dahm and Sachie Yoshizumi

    Sustainable Global Technologies is a multidisciplinary project based studio focusing on development, technologies and societal impact in developing countries. During the course, multidisciplinary teams carry out projects linked to global development challenges. Assignments are implemented with partners from academia, industries, governmental and civil society organizations and local communities.

    In 2018, one student team focused on communication practices in reconstruction and sustainable solutions after the earthquake in Nepal.

    Nepal experienced a 7.8 magnitude earthquake on 25th of April 2015, which resulted in approximately 9000 people dying and over 21 000 people being injured. In addition, over half million buildings were damaged (NPC, 2015). The massive destruction has resulted in an extensive reconstruction process that is still going on three years after the earthquake. Besides financial constraints, problems in communication between beneficiarie

Keywords: CBL education and research (Challenge based learning), sustainability, multidisciplinarity, society – impact, cultural adaptivity

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