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Superimposed Verticality – Aalto University Masterclass

By Fernando Nieto

The masterclass from Aalto University and Helsinki team is based on the studio course on diversifying forms of living called Superimposed Verticality, held during Spring semester 2017 at Aalto University Department of Architecture.

The course is a collaboration between Group X (Prof. Antti Ahlava, Anssi Joutsiniemi, Jarmo Suominen) and Housing Design chair (Prof. Hannu Huttunen) at Aalto University Department of Architecture, and the University of Hong Kong HKU, Department of Architecture (Prof. Wang Weijen), and developed by teachers Fernando Nieto and Frances Hsu. The course is connected to the complementary seminar on Theories and Histories of Housing and Urbanism instructed by Frances Hsu.

The course themes are horizontality and verticality, internal and external, community and privacy, communicative and participatory design, optimized use, social sustainability. Other topics initially proposed in the course deal with public spaces and services, integration of existing buildings and new infill as an integrated platform, changes of use in existing buildings, mapping the ideas and interests of users, public multipurpose events and public art in outdoor spaces, semi-public spaces and services, loft- and open plan type flexible and changeable housing, shared facilities, shared services supporting habitation, profiling according to lifestyle, taste and behaviour types, resident events, occupation, urban farming, temporary installations, farming and flexibly outdoor activities (such as street markets).

The program to be developed by students consists of housing design and another functions in addition to it according to the solution (services, workplaces etc.), in order to develop housing further as a part of integrated urban realm. The course task and context is twofold:

– Horizontality by HKU students, whose task is the design of a housing block in Marine Technology quarter in Otaniemi, Espoo, Finland.

– Verticality by AU students, whose task is the design of a typical high density high-rise new neighbourhood, with mixture of housing development and other public or private facilities next to the metro station of Tiu Keung Leng, in Tseung Kwan O, Hong Kong. The different projects address emergent spatial forms and practices of hyperdense living and verticality in housing in the former British Colony in order to identify the DNA of density. New, diverse and experimental, if not unprecedented transformations of the Existenzminimum, are proposed.

The course has included two field trips. AU students and teachers visited Hong Kong in February, and HKU students and Professor Wang Weijen visited Finland in March. During HKU visit, a workshop on the topic “Housing as user-generated open system” was held, where students made proposals on their view in flexible accommodation, open systems and user-centered design.

The studio course Final Review is included in Aalto Festival 2017, showcasing Aalto’s students, graduates and faculty in a month-long festival that takes place at various locations all over the Helsinki metropolitan area.