Defence in the field of Architecture, Landscape and Urbanism, architect Anne Tervo

Solo dwellers’ domestic spatial needs are rarely met in one-room apartments

Title of thesis: Domestic Space for Solo Living. Changing patterns in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, Finland

Opponent: PhD, professor Mari Vaattovaara, University of Helsinki

Custos: Professor Kimmo Lapintie, Aalto-yliopiston taiteiden ja suunnittelun korkeakoulu, Arkkitehtuurin laitos

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Tervo has studied working-aged solo dwellers’ domestic spatial needs and desires in her dissertation Domestic Space for Solo Living – Changing Patterns in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, Finland. In particular, there is a need for knowledge relevant for housing design as solo-living residents’ perceptions have not been studied enough. Therefore, there is a danger that their housing is interpreted in a framework defined by stereotypes and outdated mental images.

The study focuses, for instance, on the experienced shortage of space that has not been previously covered in terms of solo-living residents. This is likely due to the fact that a household is in general considered living in an overcrowded dwelling when the number of residents exceeds the number of rooms thus signifying that solo dwellers are kind of marginalized.

’The size of one-person households mirrors poorly domestic spatial needs. The survey results marked that especially solo households are in the need of more space. This is connected to the residents’ wellbeing, which ought to be in the heart of housing discourses’, says Tervo.

In particular, a one-room apartment with an open-plan kitchen (i.e. studio apartment), typical in contemporary housing production, is rarely suitable for the target group of this study. It is also noteworthy that the shortage of space is connected to this apartment type. Based on the results, Tervo suggests a one-room apartment with a separate kitchen to be returned to housing production.

’I think we should first listen to the residents, and only after that make decisions regarding the future of housing. I understand that housing has to be affordable and available; however, this should not mean that apartment size decreases up to the point where their usability suffers.’

When discussing the results in reference to current housing production in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, Tervo suggests that a demand for multi-functionality should be considered as a characteristic steering the design of new apartments as well as the renovation of the existing building stock. While the means are many, multi-functionality provides flexibility in terms of solo dwellers’ varying domestic spatial needs as well as sudden changes.

’The results of housing studies are poorly implemented into practice as the changes are automatically expected to result in extra costs. Thus, I address the conclusions to the decision-makers who can set the qualitative targets sufficiently high.’

More information: Anne Tervo, [email protected], puh. +358 50 3038 290

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