Domestic Space for Solo Living - Changing patterns in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, Finland

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


Despite the rise of solo living, solo dwellers' domestic spatial needs have received relatively little attention in housing studies. In particular, housing design and related decision-making processes do not recognize the unique characteristics of solo living. This article-based dissertation in the field of housing studies examines the domestic spatial needs of working-aged solo dwellers in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area (HMA), Finland. The chosen research approach emphasizes the residents' viewpoint. The data has been collected using interviews, questionnaires, and game method. The aim is to provide knowledge that can be applied when developing urban housing. The results indicate that household size does not sufficiently mirror solo dwellers' domestic spatial needs. In particular, these needs are rarely met in one-room apartments with open-plan kitchens, i.e. apartments typical in contemporary Finnish housing. It is also noteworthy that it is this apartment type in which shortage of space is most often experienced. The social dimension is a key to the identified spatial needs as solo dwellers' homes are also sites for various space-related encounters. On the other hand, the significance of the social dimension is visible in sovereignty as a meaningful part of solo living—an important aspect when developing housing concepts with shared domestic spaces. In addition, the dissertation asserts that the established apartment type categories, based on the number of rooms, are overly abstract and generic. In this respect, it would be useful for future housing studies to also pay attention to other dwelling features, such as a kitchen type, and thus provide knowledge that is relevant for the residents and designers. In general, it is noted that the knowledge and skills of architects and other design professionals could be better exploited better in housing studies. In the concluding remarks, the results are discussed in reference to the current state of housing production. Here the main point is that the results of housing studies are poorly implemented into practice when the changes are automatically expected to result in extra costs. Thus, the last words are targeted at the decision-makers who, when redefining the guidelines for housing production, can set the qualitative targets sufficiently high. Consequently, it is proposed that a demand for multi-functionality will be considered as a characteristic steering the design of new apartments as well as the renovation of the existing building stock. While the means are many, multi-functionality provides flexibility in terms of solo dwellers' varying domestic spatial needs as well as sudden changes.
Translated title of the contributionYksinasujan asuintila ja muuttuvat asumisen mallit pääkaupunkiseudulla
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Lapintie, Kimmo, Supervising Professor
  • Joutsiniemi, Anssi, Thesis Advisor
  • Mäenpää, Pasi, Thesis Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-64-0286-4
Electronic ISBNs978-952-64-0287-1
Publication statusPublished - 2021
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • solo dweller
  • solo living
  • domestic space
  • housing design
  • housing studies
  • multi-functionality


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