Empower locally, attract globally

The natures of university core functions have evolved drastically since the majority of university facilities have been built. Yet, only a small portion of campuses have been re-engineered to meet the new demands of the network society in the middle of spatial transformation. At the same time, utilization rates and interdisciplinary synergies tend to be low. However, cases such as Design Factory, Urban Mill, Startup Sauna, ADDlab and AaltoHUBs manifest an experimental manner of executing spatial development projects. Thus, the aim of this study was to analyze processes and value generation of these five intrinsic interdisciplinary university space development projects on Aalto university campus in Otaniemi.


The results propose a community-driven expansion to existing university campus management theories. The cases suggest alternative bottom-up approaches to university campus facilitation in addition to the traditional top-down facilities management and development practices. The conceptual process can be seen as an iterative loop as visualized in Figure 1. The differences are highlighted in Table 1. Moreover, new ways of learning and working seemingly require more agile, systemic, and integrated processes from facilitators in physical, social, and virtual dimensions.



Figure 1. The conceptual iterative nature of the pilot cases


Table 1. Differences between the studied cases.


The enablers and hindrances that hopefully can help the campus managers in their complexing tasks are listed in Table 2. Common effects for the campuses deriving from this study were identified as: 1. Usability of campuses is enhanced by cross-organizational pop-in places where knowledge is thematically shared through facilitation operators; 2. Valid measures, costs, values and impacts vary in alternative environments compared to traditional institutional settings which is why the measures should be further developed; and 3. Various operational models are needed to create an interdisciplinary community – an agile follow-up project model seems to function for these cases. These notions should fundamentally affect the way in which campuses are managed.


Table 2. Enablers and hindrances of campus managers.

Future Opportunities

We hope these examples encourage university administration, facility management practitioners, university community members and researchers alike to ideate, test, implement and impact their own environments. Another question deriving from this study is how to balance between the traditional top-down and the alternative bottom-up project processes. In an attempt to find it out, another study is under construction comparing these cases with larger and more traditional projects on the same campus: the new ARTS building and Otakaari 1 renovation. After making a synthesis and a typology of these, the resulting typology can hopefully be generalized through comparing the cases with similar projects in other campuses. In the end the contribution is planned to impact both research and practice.

RYM Program

Indoor Environment


facilitation, facility management, interdisciplinary communities, network society, pilot projects, processes, spatial transformation, University Campus Management,


Aalto University facilities services

Pilot case staff: ADF, Startup Sauna, Urban Mill, ADDlab, AaltoHUBs

BES research group and YTK: Eelis Rytkönen, Erica Österlund, Suvi Nenonen



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