The Otaniemi Campus Development and Ecological Sustainability: Perceiving the Environment of a Complex Adaptive System

The Otaniemi Campus Development and Ecological Sustainability: Perceiving the Environment of a Complex Adaptive System

Katri-Liisa Pulkkinen (Land Use Planning and Urban Studies Group, School of Engineering, Aalto University, Espoo, Finland) and Aija Staffans (Land Use Planning and Urban Studies Group, School of Engineering, Aalto University, Espoo, Finland)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/ijss.2014070103
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Abstract

No building or neighbourhood is an island but a constantly changing complex adaptive system produced by many contemporaneous, mostly interconnected and parallel but sometimes also conflicting processes. By using the development of Aalto University Campus, Finland, as an example of such a complex adaptive system in the course of change processes, the article demonstrates the challenge of transforming the production of our urban environment to truly meet the goals of sustainable development. Ecological sustainability is here understood as the need for regeneration, which is proposed as necessary in the current state of the planet. The article uses the concept of the perceived systemic environment and argues for its paradigmatic role in this context. Perceptions of the systemic environment affect and steer the actual goal setting of the stakeholders/actors in the system and can either enhance or even override the transition towards sustainability. The article suggests a way to steer the change towards a more regenerative perception of the systemic environment.
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New Students Coming: Does The Identity Of The Area Change?

The traditional campus of Helsinki University of Technology, built in 1960’s, was chosen to be the main campus area of Aalto University and all of the bachelor level students will be studying in Otaniemi campus area starting from 2015. This means that the traditional campus of technology students will have to host and be home also for business and art & design students.

The student unions did oppose the transition - business students would have preferred to stay in the center of Helsinki, and the art & design students in their current location in Arabia, also in Helsinki. One of the main reasons for opposing the move was that the Otaniemi campus has been experienced as a rather boring area and closed from others than the technology students. Otaniemi campus has to find a way to welcome and be hospitable to the new student groups. This is a challenge to the area as the identity has been built so strongly on the image of home of the “tech geeks”. If the new students experience the identity of their new university location as negative, the efforts to brand the area as an innovative campus area would result in “bad press” and thus negative image.

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