Accepted paper:

Turning utopias into material: spaces of cultural and technical experimentation in Helsinki


Philip Hector (Aalto University)
Mikko Jalas (Aalto University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the forming of self-organized, open laboratories from the initial and variegated expectations of actors to an established practice. The study is based on three cases from Helsinki, which aim at decentralized cultural production and low-tech sustainability experimentation.

Paper long abstract:

With an increasing number of open laboratories for cultural and technical production in place, questions arise regarding how and with what effects they come about, what they symbolize to those who partake and how they organize themselves in order to satisfy those involved. The study will follow the process of three Helsinki based labs from the initial and diverse expectations of actors involved until the materialization of the ideas. We ask (1) how personal utopias help to create the laboratory and its practices, (2) how interests among the participants are co-aligned and materialise as collective efforts, (3) how the laboratories (re)design their infrastructure and organisational model in order to enable participation and endured existence of the initiative. The three case studies involved are "Temporary", a one-year experiment for decentralized, cultural production, "Kuusi Palaa", its remodified successor, and finally "Third space", a campus based outdoor test side for low-tech sustainability experimenting and design-with-nature. Data will be gathered through the methods of participatory observation, interviews with initiators and new participants as well as those providing external resources.

panel B06
Collaboration in/with "open labs": studying the objects of boundary-making and crossing