Urbaria Guest Lecture: Phil Hubbard (King's College London) & Anne Tervo (Aalto University)

A warm welcome to Urbaria Guest Lecture on May 3rd at 13-15 in Porthania P219 (Lehtisali)


Phil Hubbard is Professor of Urban Studies at King’s College London. His work on urban social geographies, housing and gentrification over the last three decades has often focused on the role of regulation and its capacities to both enable, or resist, developer-led strategies of value extraction, while he has also studied municipal law’s relationship to ideas of ‘nuisance’ as it informs urban planning policy for ’noxious’ and controversial land uses. Latterly, research on other-then-human geographies has encouraged him to explore the ways that the rights of animals can be articulated within legal systems that remain anthropomorphic. His publications include Borderland (Manchester University Press, 2022) and he is an editor of the forthcoming Key Thinkers on Space and Place (3rd edition ,Sage, 2024).


In many cities of the urban West, the ‘housing crisis’ and the problem of housing affordability has encouraged the promotion of denser, smaller housing units, particularly ‘micro-apartments’ for young urban singles. In this paper I consider the way that the promotion of such development is changing, and challenges, ideas of urban liveability and adequate housing. Here, I draw on research in London focusing on housing falling below previous governmental minimum size requirements, and consider whether this is able to (i) met the ‘day-to-day’ needs of future occupants, (ii) improve the overall affordability of housing in the city, and (iii) meet targets for sustainable living and energy efficiency. The evidence presented will raise significant concerns about the rise of small homes on all three counts, and suggest the rise of small homes is instead a symptom of a pro-development discourse which allows developers to extract maximum value from constrained urban sites. Considering how the rise of small homes is associated with changing visions of 'urban living’, I argue that there is a need for increased regulation, and rethinking the ideal of central city living that often limits the potential of property. 


Senior University Lecturer Anne Tervo (Aalto University): FURNISHABILITY AS A TOOL FOR SUSTAINABLE HOUSING DESIGN

Anne Tervo is Lecturer in Housing Design at Aalto University. Her research has dealt with solo dwellers and their domestic spatial needs. Currently, her work addresses new housing stock focusing on small apartments and their design solutions in relation to design guidelines. She has lately co-authored housing design handbook (Rakennustieto, 2022) and national design guidelines titled Toimiva talo (translated as Functional House file) (Rakennustieto, 2023).


What is the spatial quality of contemporary urban housing? Are new apartments in line with design guidelines? Is there room for basic furniture? These types of questions are relevant in 2020s when housing development is characterized by the increasing share of small apartments that are smaller than before. Based on housing design practices, the presentation exemplifies how furniture symbols can be used to measure apartments’ spatial quality, and how this method is rooted not just in ergonomics but also accessibility and the question of social sustainability thus reflecting the values embedded in the built environment. In the end, it can be argued that the design strategies of the 21st century, such as overlapping domestic functions and smaller rooms, often fail to meet best practices. 

Professor of urban geography, Mari Vaattovaara (University of Helsinki) will present comments after the presentations. There will also be ample time for discussion and questions from the audience. 

Wish to attend remotely? Please send an email at mikko.posti@helsinki.fi and a link will be provided.