Defence in the field of architcture: M.Sc. Freja Ståhlberg-Aalto

Q metodologinen tutkimus kymmenestä hoivoympäristöstä Japanissa sekä Euroopan maista Suomessa, Ruotsissa, Iso-Britanniassa, Ranskassa ja Itävällassa.

M.Sc. Freja Ståhlberg-Aalto will defend dissertation The Aesthetics and Architecture of Care Environments - A Q methodological study of ten care environments in Japan and the European countries of Finland, Sweden, the UK, France and Austria on Friday 1 November 2019.

Opponent: professor Gintaras Stauskis, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University

Custos: professor Pirjo Sanaksenaho, Aalto University, Department of Architecture

The Aesthetics and architecture of care environments explores the aesthetic dimensions of the care environment as experienced by the users and stakeholders of ten case studies in Japan and the European countries of Finland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, France and Austria.

The evaluation of the built environment in a comprehensive manner is both challenging and topical. The environment influences us in a multitude of ways, simultaneously and personally. We feel, hear, see, smell, and even taste the environment that surrounds us. Care environments, in particular, are complicated and their effects on users difficult to estimate. However, the aesthetics of care environments carry huge potential to induce wellbeing, enhance quality of life and, thereby, affect the healing and rehabilitation of patients and residents.

The thesis applies experimental Q methodology – a qualitative method for systematically analyzing human subjectivity – in search of a new way to evaluate care environments. The focus is on the role of aesthetics as experienced by the actual users and stakeholders of ten high-quality and award-winning care environments in Japan and the European countries. The study compares different types of healthcare buildings; hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centres and facilities for the elderly. A total of 45 participants, including architects, members of the administration, care staff, patients, residents, and their relatives give their subjective accounts on the aesthetic features of the care environment. Five aesthetic discourses and a set of shared aesthetic values are identified, which transcend building-type specific, contextual and professional boundaries.

The aims are to increase our understanding of care environment aesthetics and architecture, and thus contribute to the design of future care buildings that fulfil the values and expectations of the users.


The dissertation notice and the published dissertation are placed for public display at Väre (Otaniementie 14), close to the Info Desk, at least 10 days before the defence date.

Link to audience etiquette and dress code of the public defence (

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