The Designs for a Cooler Planet exhibition showcases 30 projects for a more sustainable future

What is wise to design for future generations in a world of plenty?
Resource Wisdom Designs for a Cooler_Planet heroimage design Aino Salonen and Oona Raadelma
Visual design by Aino Salonen & Oona Raadelma

Resource wisdom means using raw materials, energy, products, time and facilities with care. Wise design respects our common future. It advances wellbeing and carefully considers the impacts of our choices on future generations, society and biodiversity.

Aalto University's Designs for a Cooler Planet event showcases radical ideas and creative prototypes under the theme of Resource wisdom. The physical exhibitions at Otaniemi will follow all regulations set by the Finnish authorities in September. The virtual exhibitions and the seminars are open for everyone from 8 to 29 September 2021. The event is part of the official program of Helsinki Design Week.  

Come and see what happens when scientists and designers work together, across disciplines, to come up with ideas for a more sustainable future.

Our three themes:

Better to Wear exhibition visual

Better to Wear

We get dressed each and every day: clothes protect us and help us express ourselves. We can dress better when we re-design the whole textile process from manufacturing to use to recycling.

Infinite materials theme visual

Infinite Materials

We need to radically cut our consumption of materials and energy by creating materials that are not just renewable but forever reusable.

Loving environments visual theme

Loving Environments

Construction gobbles up half of the world’s natural resources. Collaboration between scientists, designers, architects, the public sector and companies generates ideas that can make living environments and the construction industry more sustainable.

Loving Environments virtual exhibition. Design: Heljä Nieminen

Loving Environments | Virtual Exhibition (external link)

More sustainable and liveable living environments.

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Experience Helsinki Design Week at Aalto University.

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Photo: Mikko Raskinen

Helsinki Design Week 2021 has landed in Otaniemi, showcasing three paths to resource wisdom

Radical ideas and prototypes contributing to a resource-wise future. The exhibitions and online lectures are open to everyone, and they belong to the official Helsinki Design Week programme.

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Resource Wisdom - Designs for a Cooler Planet 2021
FoamWood sample | Photo by Mikko Raskinen (2021)
Foam material made with wood. Photo: Mikko Raskinen

Take a sneak peek into the future! More than thirty Aalto University projects are on display, here are some of the featured projects:

Foam wood for packaging, insulation and food industry 

The wood-based foam material developed by Aalto's researchers is light, durable and flexible, and of course renewable and biodegradable. In the future, it could replace, for example, styrofoam and bubble wrap, as well as insulate buildings and be a raw material for the food industry. Researchers are using artificial intelligence to tailor foam properties and find new uses.

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Ligniinillä käsitelty tuoli
A chair coated with lignin. Design: Saara Kantele, photo: Fotoni Film and Communications

Lignin – from combustion waste to the brown gold of the forests

Lignin is the binder structure of wood, and as it is very difficult to process chemically, it has been burned for energy. Now Aalto researchers have developed a simple and economical way to make spherical lignin particles. They can replace fossil raw materials and toxic chemicals in adhesives and coatings, for example. The invention is important not only for the environment but also for the economy because it multiplies the yield from lignin compared to incineration.

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Putretti fertiliser Photo: Anne Kinnunen
Putretti fertilizer. Photo: Anne Kinnunen

Precision fertilizer for forests from compost and ash

Fertilization of forests significantly boosts tree growth, and thus increases both carbon sequestering and forest owners’ income. Aalto researchers developed an ecological precision fertilizer which contains all the nutrients needed by trees from compost and ash without chemical processes and extraction that burden the environment. Indeed, the carbon footprint of this fertilizer is only one-tenth that of a similar chemical fertilizer.

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Designs for a Cooler Planet

From a car-dominant road to a liveable street

We can decrease the need to build new construction by renovating and revitalizing neglected urban areas. Otakaari road on the Otaniemi campus was used as a case study in which a bleak road was redesigned to a lively street: there will still be cars, but pedestrians and biodiversity are prioritized. Based on unmet user needs and visitor data, architect and service design students made plans to make outdoor spaces and interiors more attractive to improve the occupancy and user satisfaction.

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Two persons discussing about knitted textile properties for solar cell textile integration
Close cooperation with the companies is a key success factor for applied research. Photo: Jaakko Eskola

Could a wearable solar panel charge electronics in the future?

A textile-integrated solar panel could charge wearable sensors and electronics, so-called smart clothes, without the need to replace or charge batteries. The cells also collect energy from artificial light, and they can be washed. We showcase a solar cell jacket prototype with temperature and humidity sensors.

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Zero-energy Luukku house. Photo: Montse Zamorano Gañán
Zero-energy Luukku house. Photo: Montse Zamorano Gañán

Wood Wonders: Examples of climate-friendly construction

Aalto's researchers are developing new wood construction, building concepts and wood structures that are carbon-neutral, recyclable and versatile. Wood has powerful strengths: it stores carbon, it binds moisture and feels warm, wooden structures are long-lasting and repairable, and wood is an impressive building material. In addition, wood has untapped chemical properties that could be utilised to replace plastics, adhesives, solvents or other environmentally harmful products.

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Join us!

The event is a part of Helsinki Design Week’s official festival programme and Year of Research-Based Knowledge. Aalto University is one of the EU's New European Bauhaus partners. 

#ACoolerPlanet #HelsinkiDesignWeek #NewEuropeanBauhaus #tttv21

We monitor the COVID-19 situation closely, and the physical exhibitions at Otaniemi will follow all of the regulations set by the Finnish authorities. Visitor information will be updated at the beginning of September on this page. 

A Civil Engineering Student working on a water engineering project

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