I participated in the multidisciplinary Finnish Conference of Environmental Sciences, that took place on the 10.-11.12.2019 in Mikkeli. The theme of the conference was the topical Circular Economy and Sustainable Growth. The conference brought together scholars from numerous disciplines, from natural to social sciences, and it included a variety of topics from research on road transport to invasive species and for example various technologies for environmental remediation and toxicity measurement. Researchers, academics, scholars, and other attendees of the conference enjoyed the various perspectives of research presentations, poster sessions, motivational keynote speakers and well-organized dinner celebrations.
The growing understanding of the limited raw materials has shifted the perspective, also in the context of buildings, towards the use of renewable and recycled materials and extending buildings’ life cycles. Hence, the link between circularity and my research topic, idea of spatial adaptability (i.e. physical space accommodating changing conditions over time) is widely acknowledged. In the conference, I introduced a qualitative way to assess an apartment’s adaptation potential. Also, I demonstrated the model in the context of Finnish apartment buildings and presented their capacity to accommodate dweller-driven changes.
I underlined, that there are lessons to be learned from our existing housing stock for future developments. For example, the increased efficiency of 21st century’s Finnish apartment buildings (e.g. deeper building frames, lower degree of natural light, etc.) leads to lower ability to accommodate spatial changes unless specific design considerations are taken into account. On the other hand, for example, a structure consisting of load-bearing walls is not an obstacle to adaptability, if other design considerations are included. For this reason, the title of the presentation highlighted that it is wise to look back to see forward: to make wise decisions for the future, we need to know better the performance of the existing built environment.