ominous construction site with time out written over it

Time Out! 

Rethinking Construction

In the time it takes you to read this text, the global construction industry will have poured some 60,000 tonnes of concrete. In just one day, it will have consumed over 250,000 tonnes of fossil-based plastics and close to 1 billion tonnes of steel. As a result, over one third of global carbon emissions are associated with the construction of the built environment. Construction is adversely affecting the climate, ecosystems, humans and non-humans every day.

At Aalto University, we’re calling time out!

We’re inviting architects, designers, engineers, material manufacturers, construction companies, policy makers and everyone living in the built environment to rethink our entire approach. 

1. Let't not build, but use what we already have.

Let’s not build, but use what we already have

We should use vacant, underused buildings as they are, accepting that the user might need to adapt to the spaces, not the other way around. 

2. Let's give old buildings a second chance

Let’s give old buildings a second chance

The next best thing is to repair or refurbish existing spaces. They can be transformed to serve a different purpose. Demolition is not the answer. 

3. Let’s build new only within our planetary boundaries 

Let’s build new only within our planetary boundaries 

Building something new should be the exception, not the norm. We should build new only when the benefits to people’s health and safety outweigh the harms. Closing the loop, slowing down and adopting regenerative principles is key.

This exhibition highlights solutions that could help change the mindset and keep the built environment within our planetary boundaries. It’s time to turn our thought process around!

Photo: Shutterstock

Exhibition Projects


Geopolymers– an alternative to concrete

Materials right beneath our feet

pikku finlandia interior

Little Finlandia

Longevity is the real sustainability

Light clay prototypes

Light Clay

A material of the past, present and future

Rammed Earth blocks

Rammed earth technique

Ancient methods in a modern context

Solar panel shields

Carbon neutral metals

Less bad, more good

finnish forest

Building with wood

Longevity is the real sustainability

Green building

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Click for more Time Out! content from Instagram


The construction sector must up its game

We cannot afford to waste the resources that we have already invested into our built environment.

Read more
Construction site machine

Concept, curation: Professor Matti Kuittinen

Concept, curation, production: Aalto ARTS Communications Sini Koskimies, Miranda Enberg, Krista Kinnunen & Enni Äijälä, Designs for a Cooler Planet

Exhibition architecture & design: Markus Koistinen

Visual identity & graphic design: Milja Komulainen

A warmhearted thank you to all creators, collaborators and facilitators:

Maarit Mäkelä, Jussi Leveinen, Priska Falin, Amedeo Martinez, Leena Korkiala-Tanttu, Anssi Luoma, Johanna Hyrkäs, Jaakko Torvinen, Havu Järvelä, Elli Wendelin, Pekka Heikkinen, Jaana Vapaavuori, Hamidreza Daghigh Shirazi, Ari Jokilaakso, Mark Hughes, and Saara Kantele. 

We are Aalto University, a community and network of academics, architects, designers, artists, scientists, engineers, writers, doers, thinkers, innovators, businesses, brands, consumers and citizens. We believe that if we can imagine radical, revolutionary change, we can make it happen, too.

Interested in collaborating? Contact Aalto University: [email protected]

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