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February 10th, 2009
Students’ Visions: Communal Spaces of the Future

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PR – Environmental values and a sense of community were valued above
technology in the Happy Working and Living Spaces 2040 vision challenge
organised for young students by Tekes and Finnish Association of Civil
Engineers (RIL).

Six teams consisting of students in
various fields, from all over Finland, discussed the spaces we might
live and work in 31 years from now. The general viewpoint was
happiness.

"The results reflected one major dilemma: how to
use developing technologies to build a society in which an individual’s
freedom to make his or her own decisions can survive. Technologies
should help build a good life – not force labels on people or shut them
up in institutions," says Professor Saku Mantere, a member of the Aalto University Foundation Board.

Metamaterials to modify the apartment of the future

The
first prize in the vision challenge went to a living and working space
solution named Onnistamo, designed by a team consisting of industrial
and mechanical engineering, architecture and regional planning students
from the University of Oulu.

"To be happy, we need friendship,
freedom and intellectual challenges. We aimed at building space for
each of these elements, and at the same time, bring people together,"
says Juuso Kangas from the winning team.

"In our
solution, individual freedom finds a physical form in Monio, the living
space. Monio is a metamaterial that forms to accommodate the
inhabitant’s needs using artificial intelligence. The essential part of
this plan is the smaller requirement for space: metamaterial converts
the living room into a bedroom with no fuss, eliminating unnecessary
space."

Kangas believes that remoulding metamaterials will be in use by 2040.

"We
already have memory alloys that change their shape, and protective
materials that harden when they receive a blow. Combining these will
create a metamaterial that will form according to the user’s needs."

The
space designed by the students also includes a thinking, working and
community activity centre Wikibaario, in which ideas can be tested
through simulations carried out on a "thinking floor". Friends meet
each other in an open leisure space resembling a park.

"Onnistamo
has a completely self-sufficient energy supply: all working energy
comes from the sun, wind, water and waste. Recycled rain water is used
as service water."

Review of traditional working models

The
challenge, funded by the Tekes Spaces and Places programme, aimed at
increasing the utilisation of cross-disciplinary competencies.

"We
wanted to encourage students to break out of traditional ways of
thinking. These are the designers of the future, with the power to
develop innovation in the field," says challenge coordinator Matti Sivunen from RIL.

Further information:

Matti Sivunen
Project Engineer
RIL
matti.sivunen(at)ril.fi
Tel. +358 40 356 6815

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