The Annual Review reflected on the results of the past year

At the Annual Review of the School of Arts, Design and Architecture 8 March, recognition was also given to the achievements of the past year and the Alumna of the Year was awarded.
Dean Tuomas Auvinen opened the Annual Review event in Dipoli

The event to look back to the past year's work and achievements was held on site at Dipoli after a break of a couple of years. About a hundred representatives of the academic and service staff took stock of the key achievements in 2022.

Dean Tuomas Auvinen referred to many changes in the School during the past year: ‘The School of Arts, Design and Architecture has undergone quite a few major changes, with the merger of two of our departments, with an extensive curriculum reform and with lots more students starting their studies.’

The Dean was pleased to say the big efforts are now done and they have laid a solid groundwork for the future: ‘We have been able to enhance our teaching and research environments, our fit-for-purpose curriculum ensures our graduates are properly trained to serve the future needs of society, and the School’s financial situation is balanced. I want to thank all of you for your hard work!’

Looking into the near future, Auvinen also wanted to challenge us to soon focus on what are the key things we need to address. ‘Let’s start thinking big: what is it that the School should and could achieve? What are the first steps towards something new? I know that as a community we have courage for the unknown, readiness for development, the ability to challenge ourselves and others.’

Community members were also rewarded for their excellent work. See the awards given below.

The Prizes and Awards

Teaching Award: Assistant Professor, Martina Čaić, Department of Design 

Assistant professor Martina Čaić came to Aalto University in 2020. For a newcomer, these challenging Covid2019 times and distant working mode have not been the easiest to integrate and demonstrate excellency. However, Martina Caic has become known for her clear and systematic approach and commitment in her different roles as a teacher, coordinator, mentor, and advisor. 

She has demonstrated pedagogical understanding and persistence in her teaching and supervising, she is not afraid to take responsibility of topics previously unfamiliar. As an example of topics in her own expertise area, together with Nuria Solsona, she has the responsibility of the 12 credit course Designing for services in Collaborative and Industrial design major. The overall assessment of this course from last autumn 2022 was 4.53/5 being one of the top numbers at Department of Design.

Furthermore, being advisor for several doctoral researchers, and in her research team, she has quickly developed a pedagogical approach in supporting doctoral researchers in their topical questions. As an advisor to doctoral researchers her support has been stated to ‘be exceptionally encouraging, constructive and forward looking.’  

Teaching Award: Senior University Lecturer Juuso Tervo, Department of Art and Media 

Senior university lecturer, PhD Juuso Tervo has always fostered a fertile relationship between his teaching and his research in the field of art education, all for the clear benefit of his students. At Aalto he has contributed greatly to the University Wide Art Studies initiative, and to NOVA, the Nordic Visual Studies and Art Education Program, of which he is presently the Head. Juuso is an active and ever helpful member of the teaching community of the department, and has, despite his commitment to the demanding job, been able to remain “The sanest person in this school,” as the nominator for this award described him.  

Research Award: Professor Teemu Leinonen

Associate professor, Doctor of Arts and the head LeGroup (learning environments) research group, Teemu Leinonen has pioneered in studying digital learning, e-learning environments and creative collaborative work. Teemu has background in educational studies which he has successfully combined with new media at Media Lab Helsinki since the turn of the millennium. Teemu Leinonen’s productive and versatile research profile has also a very strong ethical agenda covering collaboration with developing economies and advocating empowering open source software and open education solutions. After Covid-19 online learning has become more relevant than ever before. Teemu’s recent book ‘Hyvän oppimisen tilat’ (Spaces for good learning) is a very topical contribution to this important discussion. 

Dissertation AwardHella Hernberg

Architects as ‘Mediators’: Sociopolitical roles in mediating the ‘temporary use’ of vacant spaces 

Hella Hernberg’s work discusses an emerging research and practice domain of temporary use that focuses on repurposing existing spaces and not building new ones per se.  Hernberg pays explicit attention to the social and political role of temporal use, which allows for a critical debate on how this practice can be a means for achieving more sustainable building practices, and enables to protect this practice from becoming absorbed by real estate developers and the market in general. The work contributes to academic and professional practice by discussing what kinds of socio-political roles we can identify for actors, such as architects or designers, mediating temporary use. The thesis nuances the many dimensions of participatory design work and expands it into the spatial planning and architecture fields. 

Dissertation Award: Ilan Manouach

Estranging Comics – Towards a novel comix praxeology 

Ilan Manouach’s doctoral thesis navigates the multifaceted issues of what it means to produce comics today in light of emerging technologies such as machine-learning and how the globalization of markets and services has reshaped the field in profound ways. The thesis utilized Manouach’s own practice to exemplify its major arguments and combined rigorous theoretical argumentation with practice-based research to develop a highly original reading of the present and future of the comics industry. The originality of the contribution granted Manouach a ‘pass with distinction’ by Professor Jan Baetens (KU Leuven) who was Manoauch’s doctoral defence opponent and one of Europe’s leading scholars in the analysis of comics and graphic novels. 

Success Enabler:Hanna Karkku, Learning Services 

Hanna Karkku is a key expert and enabler for the internationalization of the School of Arts, Design and Architecture. Hanna is an interior architect by training who has actively supported education and research in our fields since the 1990s. She has been a solid foundation of our school's internationalization since 2002 and an important support for students in organizing domestic and international internships. Hanna is known as an appreciated, rigorously modest professional, and capable person who makes things happen – with a smile. 

Artistic Activity AwardPikku-Finlandia – Little Finlandia 

Pekka Heikkinen, Pirjo Sanaksenaho, Jaakko Torvinen, Elli Wendelin, Havu Järvelä, Maiju Suomi, Philip Tidwell, Ransu Helenius, Stine Pedersen 

Aalto ARTS architecture students designed Little Finlandia for temporary use as a conference and restaurant pavilion during Finlandia hall’s renovation as a studio assignment commissioned by Finlandia-talo Oy and Helsinki City. The building was completed in March 2022 and it has become a popular meeting place in Töölö Bay area. Students Jaakko Torvinen, Elli Wendelin and Havu Järvelä made the tendering drawings based on Jaakko Torvinen’s initial idea. The studio course was arranged by professors Pekka Heikkinen ja Pirjo Sanaksenaho. Pekka Heikkinen took also care of the realization phase together with the students and NRT architects. 

The modular wood structure and its pine pillars are an impressive sight, covering an area of 2 700 square metres. The building stretches from Töölö Bay Park all the way to the shore of the bay in front of its parent structure, the Finlandia Hall. The building represents the values of Aalto University: responsibility, courage, and collaboration. Little Finlandia, constructed in wood, is transferable to new location after Finlandia hall’s renovation in 2025 and can continue its life as a temporary school or day care center. 

ARTS Act of the Year: Stop Cutting Arts -movement – ARTS students and student associations 

The "Stop Cutting Arts" movement initiated, in a non-conformist way, a constructive dialogue between all parties within the School of Arts, Design and Architecture and Aalto University. It also managed to unite Aalto ARTS students across departments in a collective conversation with faculty and leadership on the significance of artistic and creative practices in our operations, while channeling a longing to return to campus after the COVID-19 restrictions. To boldly ask questions, stand up for principles, and criticize shortcomings while acknowledging that we're all one community and delivering eagerness for constructive participation in solving the issues represents the true essence of community building.    

Alumna of the Year: DA Katja Soini

Katja Soini is an industrial designer and Doctor of Arts by education. Her doctoral thesis ‘Facilitating change’ showed an example of systemic change in Finnish repair construction.  Presently she works as Chief Growth Officer at Innolink and has also made long career as design director at Vahanen companies.  2021 Katja Soini was elected the Chair of the board of Finnish designers’ organization – Ornamo, and she is also Design museum board member. Katja has had various demanding responsible and strategic roles in successfully promoting human centred and sustainable design in business and society more broadly. Particularly she has worked for transforming real estate and construction industry towards more collaborative direction, which has been an outstanding example of pioneering work in applying design approaches and sustainable design values in an industry where design has been underutilized. As the chair of Ornamo board Katja has shown strong commitment to UN sustainability goals leading the Finnish designers’ community towards increasingly responsible professional practice. 

Also the Medals of Honour of the President of the Republic of Finland to the staff of the school were celebrated:

The Order of the White Rose of Finland - Medal First Class with Gold CrossAnne Kinnunen, Photographer, School of Arts, Design and Architecture 

Anne Kinnunen has worked as a photographer first in the School of Technology, then in the Department of Architecture on a temporary basis since 1994.  She has worked beyond her own areas of responsibility and has always strived for the best possible results. Both her professional competence and her helpful and friendly attitude have always been higher than expected in her post. She is well appreciated and respected by her colleagues. 

Anne Kinnunen is passionate about her work and she has helped others to obtain brilliant quality results by photographing the artistic and scientific productions of Aalto University students, researchers, course teachers and other staff. These include e.g. many exhibitions, course work and publications. Her photo archive contains more or less million photos plus there are also the photos taken before the era of digital photography. This valuable archive is already in the active use at our school. It contains photos from decades and is part of our school´s history. 

The Order of the Lion of Finland: Iina Ekholm, Head of International Affairs, School of Arts, Design and Architecture

Iina Ekholm has purposefully built strong relationships with reputed international universities in the field. Those relations are an important strategic goal of the University. International connections create opportunities for students to expand their knowledge and build solid and versatile networks. Iina Ekholm has founded the international summer school of Aalto ARTS. It took place in Otaniemi during summer 2022, and the content was created together with six international universities. The idea of ​​the summer school is to bring also new skills to the use of Finnish society and business life. The first summer school focused on the circular economy was partly open to university alumni as well. 

In addition to international tasks, Iina Ekholm has been responsible for the quality assurance tasks of Aalto ARTS and partly the whole Aalto.  A key part of quality assurance is the audits of core areas. Iina Ekholm has been responsible for the success of the university's teaching and research evaluations, as well as the activities of the university's international Advisory Board. One part of the quality audit is “equality, diversity and inclusion”. In her own work, Iina Ekholm has followed the uncompromising implementation of those principles. She also highly values justice and respects the heterogeneity and different values of the community.  

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