A journey through alternative ways of living

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
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166 + 118
This master thesis examines how an evolution towards sustainable ways of urban living can be achieved through small steps. In this way, a literature review on the fields of design, sustainability and alternative ways of living provides a frame for approaching design for sustainability as well as an historical overview on alternative social movements and its motivations. Consequently, a field research proves Helsinki area as a powerful agent on practices informing sustainable futures. This area exhibited strong activities on sustainable practices such as urban farming, waste reuse, time banking and many others supported by various local groups and events. As a consequence, the local context is depicted by describing the local practices, groups, events and networks and its interrelations. However, the small scale of the local active community proved necessary the development of means to disseminate the available practices. In this way, design was used as a way of activism and facilitation to transform the information gathered in the research for the creation of a “guidebook for urban freedom”. In order to prove the validity of the guidebook, some of the practices featured in it were subject of experiments. In this way, experiments were held in order to analyze the acceptance and experience of “outsiders” engaging in alternative practices. For this, people were encouraged to engage into practices such as “urban farming” and “reusing discarded food” both alone and as a group. The conclusion drawn is that people are eager to engage into alternative practices. In this way, people tended to achieve better sense of autonomy and community when engaged in such practices. Furthermore, through the process, design proved to be a powerful tool for making visible and facilitating sustainable futures.
Kohtala, Cindy
Thesis advisor
Fuad-Luke, Alastair
design for sustainability, social inovation, grassroots, self-suficiency, alternative living
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