Please note! Course description is confirmed for two academic years, which means that in general, e.g. Learning outcomes, assessment methods and key content stays unchanged. However, via course syllabus, it is possible to specify or change the course execution in each realization of the course, such as how the contact sessions are organized, assessment methods weighted or materials used.


Student will learn to observe built environment with regard to usability and accessibility.

Student is able to identify different user groups of buildings and learns basic terminology related user oriented space design.

Student will practice team working in a multidisciplinary group.

Credits: 3

Schedule: 11.01.2021 - 22.02.2021

Teacher in charge (valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022): Pirjo Sanaksenaho, Ira Verma

Teacher in charge (applies in this implementation): Pirjo Sanaksenaho, Ira Verma

Contact information for the course (valid 03.12.2020-21.12.2112):

Ira Verma, D.Sc. in architecture
SOTERA research group
Department of architecture

CEFR level (applies in this implementation):

Language of instruction and studies (valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022):

Teaching language: English

Languages of study attainment: English


  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    A lecture course on user oriented space design. The course gives basic knowledge on usability, user experience and accessibility of spaces. Some design methods involving different user groups and co-design are presented.
    The students make a small scale design task related to the improvement of an existing building.

  • Applies in this implementation:

    Should know: The course is related to Usability and Inclusive Design. Students learn basic terminology related to Universal Design and accessibility.

    Nice to know: Knowledge on  inclusive and participatory approaches. Observing the built environment with respect to various user groups, looking at physical, visual and sensory perception of the space. 

Assessment Methods and Criteria
  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    Working in small groups, analyses of existing public spaces in relation to the theme of the course.

    Assessment: participation in the group work, individual design task

    Evaluation method: presentation and peer evaluation of the assignment in the last lecture

    Criteria: Attendance to course and active participation.

  • Applies in this implementation:

    The theme of the course is related to Library. This is a joint theme with ARK-E2014 - Advanced Building Design Studio. 

    The course includes a group evaluation task of a Japanese library building (material provided for the students), and reflections on personal experiences. The design documents and other materials will be analyzed according to the course themes. 

    If possible (depending on the pandemic situation), the students observe space use in a library building in Helsinki area and suggest a small-scale detailed modification to enhance user experience. 

    The group will document their analyses and prepare a common presentation. The assignment mode may include drawings, other visual presentation and text, video etc.

    Teamworking and communication skills in a multidisciplinary and multicultural group are part of the learning outcomes. 


  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    Lectures and adaptation time 28 h

    Individual design task 28 h

    Site visit 4 h

    working in groups, preparing the assignment 21 h

    Total 81 h

    Attendance to lectures is required

  • Applies in this implementation:

    Lectures (30%), attendance 6/7 lectures in zoom 

    Group task (30%), evaluation of a library building deadline 01.02.2021

    Design task (40%),  final presentation deadline 22.02.2021


Study Material
  • Applies in this implementation:

    The students are provided with the planning documents and photos of a Japanese library that they analyze in a team of 3 to 4 persons.

    If possible, we make a visit to the accessible office building of the Finnish Association of People with Physical Disabilities,  08.02.2021

    Students choose a local library and observe the space use/ service use. In reference to previous evaluation task they propose a  detailed design to improve of the usability. 

Substitutes for Courses
  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    ARK-E2001 Basics of User Oriented Space Design, 2 cr 

  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    A-8.1201, A-8.1203 or equivalent.

Registration for Courses
  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:



    The order of priority for admitting students to courses at Aalto ARTS 1.1.2018 onwards (approved by The Committee of Arts, Design and Architecture on 10.10.2017)

    The order of priority is as follows:

    1. students for whom the course is compulsory for their major/programme and who have scheduled it for the current academic year in their personal study plan (HOPS);
    2. exchange students for whom the course is a part of his/her officially approved learning agreement and scheduled to be taken during the current semester;
    3. students for whom the course is compulsory for their major/programme and who have not completed it yet;
    4. students, for whom the course is part of his/her major s or programme s alternative studies and has been scheduled in the student's PSP (HOPS) for the current academic year
    5. students, for whom the course is part of his/her major s or programme s alternative studies and who have not completed the requisite number of credits for alternative studies yet;
    6. students for whom the course is compulsory for their minor;
    7. students, for whom the course is part of his/her minor subject s alternative studies and who have not completed the requisite number of credits for alternative studies yet;
    8. students who have applied for the course through a student mobility scheme (internal mobility within Aalto University, flexible study right (JOO) studies etc.);
    9. other students.


    Courses that are intended to be multidisciplinary (e.g. UWAS courses) may apply an order of priority based on the learning outcomes of the course, while bearing in mind the university obligation of enabling students to complete their degrees within the normative duration of study set for the degree. The order of priority does not apply to courses organised by the Centre for General Studies or doctoral courses.

    This decision on the order of priority does not influence the right of the teacher to define prerequisites for the course.

  • Applies in this implementation:

    The students are divided into 3 to 4 persons multidisciplinary and multicultural teams. The students are chosen to the course to meet this target. 

    The course is collaborating with ARK-E2014 - Advanced Building Design Studio. 

SDG: Sustainable Development Goals

    1 No Poverty

    4 Quality Education

    5 Gender Equality

    8 Decent Work and Economic Growth

    9 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

    10 Reduced Inequality

    11 Sustainable Cities and Communities

    12 Responsible Production and Consumption

    16 Peace and Justice Strong Institutions


Details on the schedule
  • Applies in this implementation:

    The lectures take place on Mondays 11.01. - 22.02.2021 at 15.15 - 17.00 on zoom (except possible site visit 08.02.2021).

    The detailed program on the course MyCourses page: