Architecture House saunas, facilities for teleworking, the end of the plumbing drum: New architectural guidelines are being drawn up in Finland that would improve everyone’s everyday life

The new architectural policy program seeks to take account of people’s real needs. Homes and their environments have become even more important during the Korona period.

From what would it sound if, during such teleworking, one did not have to work at the kitchen table, but could sneak from home to work in a multi-purpose space in a condominium or in one’s own district?

And if as the family grows, the home could be extended to a side home?

Or better yet: if the plumbing repairs did not need to be evacuated, but would be taken care of quickly, because the house had already been prepared for it?

Even today, utopian-sounding housing solutions can be commonplace if the proposal for a new architectural policy program gets air under its wings.

The proposal, drawn up over a year and a half by a working group set up by the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Ministry of the Environment, was published on Tuesday and the final program is due to be completed in the spring. There is a time of 20 years from the previous program. Society has changed a lot during that time, so there is plenty to update.

Program proposal the main themes are climate change, equality, the economy, meaning and education. In addition to global issues, attention has been paid to factors specific to Finland, such as population aging, regional development and cultural heritage.

The themes are large and in part are still seeking concrete implementation, admits the chief architect of the Ministry of the Environment Harri Hakaste. But he believes that by the spring it will be clear how the program will be implemented.

“I hope that the program will become a program for all Finns. I am alienating the over-cultivation of the word architecture because in the ears of many it is elitist, ”says Hakaste.

“In reality, however, architecture encompasses the key aspects of construction, functionality, technology, aesthetics and economy.”

Corona year has made the program perhaps even more topical. Namely, it has shown how important flats and living environments are when they suddenly spend almost all of their waking hours.

If the new architectural policy program gets air under its wings, in the future more and more Finns will be able to participate in the design of their homes already during the construction phase, as in Sompasaari’s Sumppi building. There, a common spacious garden was built on the roof terrace.­

“Could the common areas of houses be thought of more based on people’s real needs? In that case, common spaces could be designed for each house or residential area, where, for example, teleworking could be done, ”Hakaste reflects.

The ideal home of the future is flexible and easy to customize. It would be possible if, in the future, the structures of apartment buildings were designed already during the construction phase in such a way that the apartments could be easily connected.

“We have lived in Finland for a long time in a unified culture and the apartments are made for the average person. However, it would be important for everyone to have the opportunity to live in their own way. For example, the space needs of immigrants are different from what we are used to, ”says Hakaste.

“Sound insulation and accessibility can also be important to the average person. We would like to develop tools to better take into account individual needs when designing or selling homes, ”he says.

Flexibility would also mean avoiding, for example, heavy pipe repair booms, as structures would be technically designed from the outset to be easy to maintain and repair. When bathrooms no longer need to be opened open, less environmental waste would also be generated.

“Climate issues are strongly involved in the program anyway and support the ongoing reform of the Land Use and Construction Act, which includes, for example, setting a limit value for the carbon footprint of buildings,” Hakaste says.

People looking homes will, of course, only emerge if people get to say what they want from their homes. Thus, one of the objectives of the architectural policy program is to involve ordinary people better already in the design of buildings, so that they better meet their real needs.

“With digital applications, it should be entirely possible for the average user to see what the end result looks like right at the design stage.”

According to Hakaste, the group construction projects in Helsinki’s Jätkäsaari and Kalasatama are good examples of a new type of housing construction in which residents are involved in the planning at an early stage.

“A short time ago, I visited Sompasaari’s Sumppi apartment building, which had the best bicycle facilities in Helsinki made at the request of the residents and a joint investment decision. They have a kitchen in their common area, and the house sauna can be booked via an electronic system. ”

The flexible use of vacant office and commercial buildings should also be increased.

The Malta House in Jätkäsaari is a good example of how community housing works.­

Architectural policy the working group that drafted the program is particularly concerned about the development of inequalities. Thus, the idea of ​​equality is strongly involved in the program.

“All Finns should have the right and conditions for a quality living environment. We have realized that there are different areas of development within the country and cities, such as declining suburbs, where this does not happen, ”says Hakaste.

One solution to stopping inequality could be found in regional architectural activities. In the past, the Ministry of the Environment supported the hiring of regional architects in, for example, several rural municipalities. They guided in zoning and helped nurture a culture of construction. The program proposes to explore the revitalization of the regional architect model.

“My view is that building everything around the country is not going to be the same. It would be great if construction could be better based on local characteristics, building heritage and landscape. Do all ABC service stations have to be the same? ” Hakaste asks.

One measure that would make residents appreciate their own environment and increase their sense of community could be house or village books. They would explain the house designer and share his thoughts on the building. In addition, the house book could tell in practice how, for example, the ventilation of a house works.

But not architecture only means practical living. Hakaste wants to highlight the importance of the built environment and architecture as a thing that enlivens the everyday life of an ordinary person and increases intellectual capital.

Thus, in addition to the export of Finnish architecture, the program proposal also talks about the promotion of architectural tourism in Finland.

“It would be great if Finns could find the old wooden house areas of Helsinki in Vallila and Käpylä, for example. There are wonderful wooden urban areas on the west coast, such as Reposaari and Kristiinankaupunki, where the human scale is well represented. ”

Proposal goes on to the next wide-ranging consultation of the programme’s target groups. It would be desirable for it not to become a paper that obliges measures only from the state, but that e.g. the real estate and construction industry, municipalities and other actors would get involved.

“We hope the program will inspire active collaboration to improve the quality of the built environment.”

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