ARA-home 2049 Housing design competition

In 2012 ARA challenged architecture students from Finland and the rest of the world to envision rented housing in 2049.

The state of Finnish society and the future of social rented housing in 2049 were the focus of the ARA-asunto 2049 design competition, organised by ARA for architecture students. In the design competition, students were asked to envision what Finland will be like in 2049 and what kinds of changes Finnish society may have undergone by then. They were then asked to design a project based on their vision, showing what social rented housing might look like by that date; this called for special envisioning skills in particular.

The area selected for the competition was the Sopenkorpi district in the city of Lahti. Entrants were free to choose any city block in the district as the basis for their design.

The broad interest in the competition was a positive surprise

The ARA-asunto 2049 (engl. ARA-home 2049) competition was realised as an international student competition in cooperation with three Finnish schools of architecture, the City of Lahti and the Lahti Science and Business Park. A total of 148 entries were received by the deadline, approximately half from international students. The most far-flung participating countries included Korea, China, Taiwan, the United States and Venezuela.

The entries received were as diverse in their approach as they were numerous. The entries grouped themselves into clear-cut categories according to the building typologies selected as starting points for the competition, and the jury aimed to highlight a range of entries that would be as diverse as possible.

Certain entrants had chosen a comprehensive and systemic approach, calling for the entire Sopenkorpi district to be developed according to a single system. This led to a number of designs rather utopian in scope, considering the normal scale of things in Finland in general and in Lahti in particular. Other entrants took a very human approach to rented housing, creating small-scale milieus. Realism often trumped innovation, and the jury would have liked to have seen bolder departures from the norm.

The best entries took a broad view of the task

Several entrants had been inspired by technological advances, including the integration of energy production in the residential buildings themselves. In most of the entries, energy economy was allowed to dictate the appearance and orientation of the buildings, and some entries boldly proposed fairly new techniques and materials. Interestingly, very many entries focused on the integration of food production with housing, featuring parts of courtyards dedicated to horticulture and greenhouses on roofs and balconies.

The entries judged to be the best provided an answer to practically all of the questions presented in the competition brief. Their designs began with a clear overall concept on which the actual physical design was based. In the best cases, the overall concept provided a backbone for the entire project and a logical basis for all of the solutions presented. The jury particularly appreciated those entries that solved the issues presented on the scale of the Sopenkorpi district, but in such a way as to indicate the possibility of scaling up as required.

Winning entries and jury report

Published 2013-08-12 at 13:17, updated 2019-05-13 at 13:25