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Ulrike Passe

Author: Alison Weidemann | Image: Alison Weidemann

Ulrike Passe, an Iowa State University associate professor of architecture, presented her paper on “Performance, data and the expanding field of sustainable design” at the 6th International Alvar Aalto Meeting on Contemporary Architecture – Technology and Humanism organized by the Alvar Aalto Academy at the Town Hall in Seinajoki, Finland, which was designed by Aalto in 1962.

Passe presented the theoretical framework which relates her interdisciplinary research into sustainable neighborhoods to architectural design thinking. The theoretical base supporting this work is Hermès V: Le Passage du Nord-Ouest by Michel Serres, where he is searching for a passageway that leads from the exact sciences to the arts and humanities. For Passe, the Northwest Passage serves as metaphor for the complex thought process between disciplines needed to produce and perceive sustainable urban environments. Based on this understanding, the paper established four overarching theoretical frames crossing between data and perception, narrative and policy, atmosphere and urban typology, technology and behavior, thus befriending quantitative and qualitative methods of research and design thinking.

The meeting was chaired by Professor Markku Hedman of Tampere University and discussed the relationship between evolving technology and changing premises for human well-being within the context of the built environment, such as virtual reality and computational landscape design, smart urban lighting and social spaces for refugee housing.