What is Living+?

“This legacy will live on under the name of Living+, with human-centred living environments being a core research topic at Aalto University for years to come.”
Aalto Living+ Platform | Kvartsi_Jaakko Heikkilä_Lauri Janhunen_Ahti Launis_Raisa Mäkinen

Living+ started as a programme undertaken to celebrate Aalto University’s contribution to the World Design Capital Helsinki 2012. It consisted of 37 projects done by 2000 students, staff and partners, which raised awareness of research and education relating to the design of living environments. The programme report Living+: for better living environments[1] raises three main areas of interest: Inclusive innovation, Changing urbanism and New Wellbeing.

“Together with businesses and their innovations, designers’ contributions are essential for building a more socially responsible world.”

In short, the report highlighted how global challenges can be addressed through design and innovation, how our urban society is changing in ways we have never before experienced, requiring new approaches, such as increased participation and how our society’s increasingly demanding demographics force us to put a greater emphasis on design for wellbeing. According to the report, Living+ was proven a topic so crucial that it would maintain an integral part of Aalto University long into the future.

“We truly believe in improving lives through design, and we are dedicated to uniting art, science, technology and business to make a difference.”

In 2016, Living+ was relaunched as the Living+ Platform, with the task to initiate and coordinate multi- and interdisciplinary research and teaching in the area of human-centred living environments. In the university’s strategy 2016-2020[2] human-centred living environments is one of three multidisciplinary themes addressing major global and national challenges forming Aalto’s academic core.

Research supported by the Living+ Platform

Supporting new cross-disciplinary research initiatives in the area of human-centered living environments is one of the Living+ Platform’s most crucial tasks.

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In practice, the research support carried out by the Living+ becomes visible for example by facilitating cross-disciplinary networks of researchers.

Since then the platform has worked on supporting collaboration between researchers across different schools of the university under a dedicated operational team and board. Activities carried out by the platform include thematic networking events for researchers, biannually recommending projects for internal seed funding and organizing an annual lecture series, Aalto Living+ Forum.

In 2018, Aalto University carried out a Research, Art and Impact Assessment to evaluate its development, performance, and future potential. Human-centred living environments (Living+) was one of 8 fields assessed by their own international panel of acclaimed scholars in the respective fields. Each panel produced an assessment report and a summary was gathered into a public report. For more information on the general assessment, check the link below.

Research assessments

The panel assessing Living+ concluded that because of the platform’s young age, its strengths lie in the dedication to serve the whole society and in its impressive future potential if given adequate resources. However, the panel expressed a need for the platform to strengthen its connection and attract more attention from its university, industry and government stakeholders.

“The platform is unique in its direct relevance to local government stakeholders and to local communities. This is impressive and should be encouraged.”[3]

Living+ aims to answer this feedback by developing activities that more accurately meet the needs of society. In 2019, the platform opens the Living+ Hub, a physical place that will provide space and technology for research, development and innovations activities connecting researchers, students, companies and cities. With this development, the platform will be better equipped to welcome external stakeholders to discuss and collaborate with students and researchers at Aalto University. The platform now bases its activities around three main segments: research, education and societal networking – all in the thematic area of human-centred living environments.

Aalto Living+ Hub

The Living+ Hub is an experimental space for research, development and innovations activities connecting researchers, students, companies and cities.

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Annamari Tolonen, Aalto yliopisto, 2018.

[1] ”Shaping the future,” by Aalto University, 2015, Vision, Mission and Strategies 2016-2020, p. 8. [PDF file]. Retrieved from https://www.aalto.fi/sites/g/files/flghsv161/files/2018-04/aalto-yliopisto_strategy_english.pdf

[2] “Living+: for better living environments”, by Kaisa Kivelä, Sanna Tyyri-Pohjonen, Krista Kinnunen (editors), Aalto University, 2013, Aalto University Publication Series, Art + Design + Architecture 3/2013, p. 2. Helsinki: Aalto ARTS Books.

[3] From ”RAI2018: Research, Art and Impact Assessment”, by Ella Bingham, Krisztina Cziner, Marjo Kettunen and Tuija Pulkkinen (editors), Aalto University, 2019, p. 155. [PDF file]. Retrieved from https://www.aalto.fi/sites/g/files/flghsv161/files/2019-03/rai_2018_report_s.pdf

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