Kaisa_2012_3_photo by Veikko Somerpuro



Here is the course’s teaching schedule. Check the description for possible other schedules.

Thu 9.1.2020
09:15 - 16:45
Fri 10.1.2020
09:15 - 11:45
Thu 16.1.2020
09:15 - 16:45
Thu 23.1.2020
09:15 - 16:45
Thu 30.1.2020
09:15 - 16:45
Thu 6.2.2020
09:15 - 16:45
Fri 7.2.2020
09:15 - 11:45
Thu 13.2.2020
09:15 - 16:45
Fri 14.2.2020
09:15 - 11:45
Thu 20.2.2020
09:15 - 16:45
Thu 27.2.2020
09:15 - 16:45
Thu 5.3.2020
09:15 - 16:45
Thu 12.3.2020
09:15 - 16:45
Thu 19.3.2020
09:15 - 16:45
Thu 26.3.2020
09:15 - 16:45
Thu 2.4.2020
09:15 - 16:45
Thu 9.4.2020
09:15 - 16:45


Compulsory for USP Programme students

The course belongs to the USP-300 module

Course is not available for students from other degree programmes.

Prerequisite is acceptance to USP as 'major' or 'minor' studies option; final decision is program chair (in consultation with course leader) if the course is overbooked.

Upon completion of the course, participants should be able to:

  • Analyse the urban challenge theme and a particular urban situation in relation to relevant issues and theories drawn from across multiple disciplines;

  • Demonstrate understanding of urban issues and dynamics across spatial and temporal scales, including local, regional, national and global impacts;

  • Search, identify and critically review literature, theories and methods of USP, and reflect on professional ethics and responsibility;

  • Apply research and planning skills to address a particular urban situation, proposing sufficient and relevant responses to the development challenge.

  • Demonstrate learning throughout the practical development of project work, justify intentions, choices and outcomes;

  • Comprehend and communicate across several competencies and disciplines, as well as develop own competencies within collaborative work;

  • Communicate analysis, understandings, competencies, learning and project process and outcomes verbally, textually, and visually, so that it can be understood by teachers and external audiences.

As a resource for assigned tasks and students’ ongoing studies, the course has a social agenda to create peer networks across study lines, departments and universities.

Recommended time for completion is in first year, spring term

The course is offered in periods 3 + 4.

Common urban challenge studios integrate multiple expert areas to study and address contemporary urban phenomena from different perspectives. The challenge-driven educational model of the studio crosses disciplines and specializations, prioritizing design thinking, learning-by-doing experimentation, transdisciplinarity and solving societal challenges. During the course urban challenge themes are addressed theoretically from different perspectives and studied practically within specific cases, sites or initiatives. The teachers represent key disciplines and professions, and the studies will be conducted in cooperation with partners in research and municipalities.

General examples of urban challenge themes include:

  • Urban economies and the challenge of governance and welfare
  • Social integration and the challenge of urban typologies and heritage
  • Liveability and the global challenge of fast-paced cities
  • Socio-Ecological habitats and the challenge of densification

The studio provides an introduction to challenge-driven and research-based practice in urban planning and design. The aim is to establish a broad understanding of the complexities of urban development and practical training in analysing, visualizing and responding practically to urban development challenges. The course alternates between scales – from macro to micro perspectives as well as in present-day situations complemented with historical and future perspectives.

The studio conducts training in research and planning through project work within the studio theme. Project work is guided through a series of practical tasks, supported by lectures, seminars, reading and writing, workshops and tutorials. Students will be tutored both in inter-disciplinary groups and by tutors specialized in their professional skills. Studio work takes place within a dedicated space for one-two days a week. Additionally, site visits and field trips will be organized by teachers and initiated by students.

Will be announced before the course begins

The studio is an experiential and collaborative learning environment, in which there are two main pedagogical aims:

(1) Research-based practice. The studio applies theories taught in USP classes practically within urban cases. Students are guided through a series of research and planning tasks, involving individual and group work within practical projects. The objective is to stimulate students as they enter into dialogue with local actors, stakeholders, and peers; engage in reflection and to sharpen critical thinking and inquiry into the conceptual nature of urban development practice. This stimulates students to enter into dialogue with peers, local actors, interest groups and organizations – to engage in reflective practice and to sharpen both critical thinking and practical inquiry.

(2) Interdisciplinary collaboration. The studio trains students in developing and positioning their own competences as well as in highly collaborative and interdisciplinary practice. The studio encourages participants to formulate their own positions and perspectives. Students explore, study, map, analyse, program, elaborate, propose and present their work within their group and within the overall theme of the studio. They will experience different learning styles (e.g., ‘studio’ modalities from architecture, planning and design, ‘field’ modalities from social sciences and geography, ‘lab’ from technical and natural sciences). In this way, students learn to balance specialized professional knowledge with general and transdisciplinary competencies.

Comprehensive evaluation individually but also partly based on collective work, Integers from 0 to 5.

Active participation in the different tasks specified during the course, such as lectures and discussions, group work, field trips, presentations and final reports and learning portfolios.

Kimmo Lapintie; kimmo.lapintie@aalto.fi

Hossam Hewidy; hossam.hewidy@aalto.fi