Facilitating change : towards resident-oriented housing modernisation with collaborative design

Katja Soini

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisMonograph


Collaborative design can deal with open-ended and complex systems. Its aim is to collectively create proposals for alternative futures, and bring value for people, organisations and society alike. So far the research on collaborative design has primarily focused on methodical development. Less attention has been focused on long-term examination of connections between design and appropriation. The present dissertation focuses on this research gap by providing an empirical view on the contribution of collaborative design in systemic change. This dissertation is a longitudinal case study. It addresses Finnish repair construction as a complex system, its systemic change, and he contribution of a collaborative design project in the change. The research material consists of project documents, follow-up interviews, documents on following developments, and the author’s personal experience in the project. The multi-method analysis builds an in-depth narrative of the systemic change and the contribution of design within a timespan of seven years between 2004 and 2011. The analysis shows that the systemic change of repair construction refers to a paradigmatic transformation from technical orientation towards an ideal vision of resident-oriented housing modernisation in several levels of the system. The vision was created in the IKE project in 2004 and 2005. IKE was a preliminary study commissioned by the Finnish Ministry of the Environment to define the development requirements for repair construction. The project applied collaborative design to explore and envision repair construction. Empathic and participatory approach joined multi-disciplinary project participants including residents, repair construction professionals and design researchers. The research shows that the vision built commitment to long-term change in repair construction. By 2011, the vision was adopted as an idea innovation by nearly seventy percent of the project participants. The field had started to shift its focus on residents in addition to the housing company board. Replumbing was becoming reinterpreted as a service business. Additionally, a need for long-term maintenance culture of the built environment was arising. The vision was applied in fifty development projects and solutions in private and public sectors. The research illustrates commitment to change in individual, organisational and governmental levels. The three main streams of development following the ideal vision involve resident-orientation as a novel criterion for repair construction, investment in developing repair service offering, and resident-oriented housing modernisation in building policy. The contribution of collaborative design in the systemic change of Finnish repair construction resides in facilitation. Facilitation with collaborative design in the IKE project involved 1) producing various occasions for stakeholders to participate exploration and envisioning, 2) establishing reciprocal empathic encounters between residents and repair construction professionals, 3) producing experiential material for reflection between the everyday and society, and 4)reifying the ideal vision with visualisations and storytelling for later use. The term facilitation represents the contribution and position of collaborative design. Facilitation positions collaborative design in change: design did not initiate or implement the change, but rather responded to the professional practitioners’ need for establishing a shared starting point for change. The contribution of design was to enable consistent transformation in the field by providing means to simultaneous innovation creation and adoption. The research provides insights on facilitating systemic change to scholars and practitioners of collaborative design and repair construction alike. The book presents an account of the recent history of repair construction in Finland.
Translated title of the contributionFacilitating change : towards resident-oriented housing modernisation with collaborative design
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Keinonen, Turkka, Supervising Professor
  • Whalen, Jack, Thesis Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-60-6138-2
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-6139-9
Publication statusPublished - 2015
MoE publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)


  • collaborative design
  • repair construction
  • systemic change
  • Finland


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