Here at Aalto University, Finland we are eagerly looking forward to hosting the 2012 NEPTUNE project of Circle III – Built Environment, with the theme Design for Living Environment, from Micro to Macro: Scales of Energy Saving and Environmental Technologies in Sustainable Cities of the Future which runs from 9th – 17th March 2012.

Aalto University is located at Otaniemi, in the Helsinki metropolitan area, with excellent access to all the city’s amenities. During the team building phase we will located at accommodation within Nuuksio National Park where there are excellent opportunities to enjoy Finnish culture and winter nature activities, as well other recreational winter sports.

A total of 30 students from the five different European countries, Slovenia, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Finland will have the chance to participate in this international problem-based learning project.

The course’s problem-based group learning exercise has as its goal the study of an urban development site located in eastern Helsinki, the Kruunuvuorenranta area, which is former oil terminal that is under construction as a new residential area to house up to 11 000 inhabitants by 2020. Kruunuvuorenranta’s new compact, urban residential areas will also need to be built with respect for the environment, the history of the area and incorporate extensive open spaces. The students’ task is to study the options for bringing the design of alternative and energy efficient, as well as environmentally friendly technologies to the development area with problem solving from environmental engineering, water supply engineering, transportation planning, materials technology and building perspectives. The carbon footprint of resulting ideas will also be of prime interest.

Aalto University is hosting the course in cooperation with the research groups: Clean Technologies (Forest Products Technology) at Aalto University School of Chemical Technology; Water Engineering (Civil and Environmental Engineering) at Aalto University School of Engineering and visiting professor Stefan Winter of Technische Universität München (TUM), Germany, (a FiDiPro (Finland Distinguished Professor Programme) globally acknowledged researcher and developer of modern timber construction). Professor Winter’s research project: “Innovative Timber Structures Technology – energy efficient and sustainable use of wood in building construction and the building stock – from materials to constructions” is also located in Aalto’s Forest Products Technology Department.

Partner schools

NHL University of Applied Sciences, School of The Built Environment (NHL Hogeschool, Leeuwarden) The Netherlands; University of L’Aquila, Department of Architecture and Urban Planning (Università degli studi del l’Aquila), Italy; University Institute of Technology, Department of Civil Engineering, Béthune (IUT de Béthune), France,  University of Maribor, Department of Architecture (Univerza v Mariboru) Slovenia and Aalto University (Aalto yliopisto), Espoo, Finland.

Problem sketch


As one of the Nordic countries in Europe, Finland is aiming to become an outstanding and innovative nation concerning future energy supply and utilization. A huge natural and renewable resource in the form of wood is available to a relatively small population. This provides the possibility for Finland to become one of the first nations to develop a more sustainable approach in management of its resources and development of society. The forest can supply construction material for energy efficient housing development, and despite the country’s fossil fuels being very limited, alternative energy sources may be sufficient to supply the remaining energy. Up-to-date researchers from numerous fields are strongly devoted to reaching this goal of an energy “self-sufficient” Finnish nation.

Aims of the project


The metropolitan area of Helsinki has experienced a vital growth of population during recent years. Therefore housing areas are rapidly developing around the city to provide additional living space. One of those areas is Kruunuvuorenranta, which lies close to the city centre (3km east across the sea) and is therefore a very interesting location to attempt to develop modern, and at the same time ecologically friendly neighbourhoods in close proximity to a vibrant cosmopolitan city centre. With a total footprint of 143 Hectares the Kruunuvuorenranta area will yield space for 5,000 to 6,000 residential properties, eventually housing around 11,000 people. As the planning phase has already started, it is now time to suggest innovative ideas to the town planners for a sustainable dwelling development.


Description of the main problem


Is it possible to develop a concept for a dwelling unit that can, as far as possible, supply all its needs on its own to create a comfortable environment for its inhabitants?




All participants, students and supervisors will be accommodated at Solvalla Sports Institute located within Nuuksio National Park (Friday 9th and Saturday 10th March) for the orientation and teambuilding weekend. Solvalla has excellent facilities and offers opportunities to experience Finnish winter activities such as skiing, sitting around a camp fire and evening saunas etc.

The remaining nights 11th to 16th March will spent in Helsinki City Centre hotel accommodation (Hotel Omena).

Solvalla – Location – Google Maps

Omena Hotel, Yrjönkatu 30, Helsinki, – Google Maps

Our knowledgeable Finnish students will also act as student hosts for informal student evening activities in and around Helsinki!


Locations of lectures, project work and meals

Breakfast and special lectures will be held at Aalto University, Otaniemi campus at the Forest Products Technology Department (Tekniikantie 3, Espoo)

Project work will be carried out at the nearby Aalto University Design Factory (Betonimiehenkuja 5c, Espoo)

Aalto University – Otaniemi campus map

Participants are encouraged to bring their own laptops and use the free, fast open WiFi service provided on the Otaniemi campus (and in the hotels) for assisting with project work.


Costs and payment


The costs of accommodation and all meals for participants are covered by Aalto University. Partner schools’ students need to pay a contribution of 200 Euros. For domestic students this contribution is 100 Euros.



More information

A Facebook page will also be created closer to the commencement of the project. More details will be provided later.

Important reminder about the winter climate – A word about Finnish winter weather! As the orientation weekend may involve some outdoor activities and even in town it can be uncomfortable when it is minus 20 or minus 30 Celsius in the depths of March, so it is essential that participants consider this and bring adequate cold weather clothing to fully enjoy the beauty of the Finnish winter. Please draw your students’ attention to the guidance in Appendix 1 below on suitable winter attire and ask them to consider the suitable clothes layering, head, hand and foot protection to bring with them for our cold winter climate.



The project is organized by Aalto University, School of Chemical Technology, Department of Forest Products Technology, and Aalto University, School of Engineering, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and NEPTUNE.



The Helsinki 2012 NEPTUNE Team

Prof. Stefan Winter

Mikko Martikka []

Mao Ono []

Michael Schulte-Wrede []

Leena Sänkiaho []

Gary Watkins []


Useful Links:

Helsinki 2012 Aalto NEPTUNE Course Blog:


Blackboard Platform:

Orientation Weekend Venue – Solvalla:

Hotel Omena: Omena Hotel, Yrjönkatu 30

Aalto University:

Aalto University’s Design Factory:

Helsinki Tourist Guide:

Helsinki World Design Capital 2012:

Finland In a Nutshell:

Want to Learn a little Finnish?:

Helsinki City Shops and Amenities map:

Public Transport Route Planner: