School of Arts, Design and Architecture


AREA is the Artistic Research Doctoral School of Aalto
A grassfield with some low bushes and a blue sky in the background. Four researchers observe the field in different locations, both standing and kneeling down to examine the soil, species, and surrounding..
Site visit for the Research Pavillion #3. Photo: Maarit Mäkelä
A petri dish showing blue background with yellow organism
Biofilia Slime Mold. Picture: Laura Beloff

The Artistic Research Doctoral School of Aalto (AREA) aims to advance and strengthen the role of artistic research in and across the fields of Arts, Design and Architecture with a special interest in the arts as transformational entities. The artistic research doctoral school continues Aalto’s decades-long contribution to the artistic research area in the Finnish and international contexts. In the school, artistic research can be conducted in any of the ten research fields of Aalto ARTS, when artistic practice is a key research component. 

At Aalto University artistic research exists in a unique setting, alongside and in creative interplay with the research fields of the other schools of the university. In this context artistic research refers to a broad continuum of constructive artistic and design research approaches, as well as practice-led and -based research approaches. The school seeks to achieve outstanding artistic outputs, that experiment and exemplify advanced practices and combine artistic exploration with academic reflection. The doctoral school welcomes research projects in which artistic practices engage with our complex entanglements with the world.  It seeks to support efforts where artistic practice has a transformational role, including – but not limited to – discussions on: 

- Developing artistic research practice in the various research fields of Aalto ARTS 

- Speculative approaches to alternative futures  

- More than human scales of time and space  

- Alternative knowledge systems  

- Rethinking current economic or technological paradigms 

- Explorations around individual and collective agencies 

- Issues particular to the Northern dimension  

To achieve its aims, AREA will provide doctoral researchers with appropriate supervisory, financial and peer support enabling full-time employment and a safe space for exchanges. The call for applicants closed in March 2023. The doctoral school is led by the following academic board:    

Assoc. professor Maarit Mäkelä, Dept. of Design, chair, academic leader   

Assoc. professor Laura Beloff, Dept. of Art and Media, vice academic leader   

Assoc. professor Susanna Helke, Dept. of Film   

Assoc. professor Harri Laakso, Dept. of Art and Media   

Assoc. professor Tomek Rygalik, Dept. of Architecture   

Assist. Professor Julia Valle, Dept. of Design   

The four-year school will begin in September 2023 and end in August 2027.   

The doctoral school is co-funded by Kone Foundation and Aalto ARTS. 

In addition to following the required doctoral study structure in Aalto, AREA doctoral students are provided additional teaching and activities. The curriculum of the school is built around yearly winter and summer schools, and monthly seminars. It also includes the Research Through Art and Design course at the beginning of the studies, as well as two Art of Research (AOR) conferences. In 2023 the role of the conference is to give an update of the international discourse that takes place in the field. In 2026 the students are expected to propose full papers to the AOR conference with possible related artefacts to be showcased in the conference exhibition. 

Aalto Doctoral Programme in Arts, Design and Architecture

Student study guide for the Aalto Doctoral Programme in Arts, Design and Architecture

Student guide illustration, doctoral programmes

Department of Architecture

We train professionals to design human-centred environments.

Student teamwork at Aalto University. Image: Unto Raunio

Department of Film (ELO)

The Department of Film, ELO, is Finland's only university-level film school.

Filming. Image by Unto Rautio.

Department of Art and Media

The departments of Art and Media at Aalto University School of Arts, Design & Architecture have merged as of 1st January 2022. Professor Harri Laakso has been appointed as Head of the new Department of Art & Media.

Two people discussing about a scetch they are looking on a computer

Department of Design

The Department of Design is a diverse community of competent, creative and responsible individuals. In design, we appreciate technical skill, social significance and artistic expression.

AALTO_b-9344_Original.jpg _OE_4723_Original.jpg
  • Published:
  • Updated: