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We Go to the Forest in our New Learning Space

The inviting AEREA Forum, in which one can work leaning on a pine trunk or gather on a birch green sofa, was hatched with student strength.

The recipe for a good learning space is really simple.

‘We asked the users, in other words the students, what they really needed and wanted,’ said Kreetta Airila. The ‘Nähdään’ Team (lit. ‘See You’ Team), which she represents, won a design competition for students at Aalto that had the aim of finding a new and functioning them for the library of the Department of Forest Products Technology.

The ‘All the living things in the forest’ design gave a boost to a grey library filled with empty bookshelves. It was introduced to light, space and an inviting sofa, a more peaceful working area and, naturally, wood in various exciting forms. Tree trunks supplied by UPM decorate the space and ideas arising from group work can be written on a large plywood board.

The facility can also be used as an exhibition space for student projects. On the opening day, people marvelled at a pine scarf, a birch jacket and prototypes for lichen shoes. These were developed during the summer in the joint CHEMARTS course of two Aalto Schools, the School of Chemical Technology and School of Arts, Design and Architecture. The CHEMARTS project has just been given the Aalto Act of the Year Award. The goal of CHEMARTS, which was organised three times, is to combine cellulose with design and to find new applications and markets for this combination. Already, the ideas developed during the first year were so convincing that, based on them, Tekes granted funding at the million Euros level. The name of the teaching space is derived from last year's course in which the students put forward ideas for AEREA — a ‘new age’ luxury cellulose material.

‘We wanted to name the space in honour of the student project,’ said School of Chemical Technology Professor Tapani Vuorinen.

‘Cooperation has been splendid and more is ahead,’ School of Arts, Design and Architecture Professor Pirjo Kääriäinen promises.

At the opening ceremony, the changes to the library were praised with one voice. Aalto University Learning Hub Project Coordinator Valeria Gryada also emphasises that the best method of creating a functioning learning space is to do it together with the students.

‘We have been respecting the beauty of Finnish nature and the innovativeness with a variety of cellulose-based products at the same time by the cooperation with UPM. The space enables the users to learn, be interactive, be inspired and even socialize each other, ’ said Project Manager, Daishi Sakaguchi.

‘It looks excellent,’ says Dean Janne Laine giving praise.

‘I was last here 30 years ago and the difference is huge,’ says Pekka Hurskainen of UPM smiling. He promises that the learning space will also be updated in the future. It is also intended to build a material library in the AEREA Forum as part of the Design Driven World of Cellulose project.

Text Minna Hölttä, photos Mikko Raskinen and Riikka Hopiavaara

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