Saija Hollmén

Architect,  D.Sc.(Arch)

Professor of Practice in Humanitarian Architecture

Aalto ARTS Vice Dean for Art and Creative Practices

saija.hollmen (at)

Saija Hollmén’s  research interests concentrate around architecture as a socio-cultural construction, as well as interdisciplinary university pedagogy. She is a founding member of Ukumbi NGO together with Jenni Reuter and Helena Sandman and a partner in Hollmén Reuter Sandman Architects Ltd. Their work aims at empowering disadvantaged communities. Saija is a professor at the Aalto Department of Architecture, and Vice Dean of Aalto ARTS for Art and Creative Practices.

Ukumbi NGO

Matleena Muhonen

Landscape architect M.Sc., lecturer, SGT programme coordinator

matleena.muhonen (at)

Matleena Muhonen is a practicing landscape architect and lecturer. She has been coordinating multidisciplinary Sustainable Global Technologies Programme in Aalto School of Engineering since 2007. She has carried out several international student projects in developing countries and travelled with the students to Cambodia, Tanzania and Mexico. She has also worked closely with Ministry for Foreign Affairs, UN-HABITAT and UNEP in the continuing education courses implemented in Nairobi, Bangkok and Dar es Salaam. Matleena has furthered her studies in university pedagogy focusing in teaching multicultural and multidisciplinary groups.

Helena Sandman

Architect, M.Sc. (Architecture), D.A. (Design)


Helena Sandman’s research is on affordable housing for rapidly growing communities using architecture as an empowering tool, as a member of the multidisciplinary New Global research group. She is founding member of Ukumbi NGO providing architecture as a means of development and a partner in Hollmén Reuter Sandman Architects Ltd. Helena has been teaching multidisciplinary student teams in project based slum upgrading since 2009 and is lecturing regularly world wide.

Ukumbi NGO 

Matti Kuittinen

Architect, D.Sc.(Arch)

Adjunct Professor, Resource-efficient construction and environmental impacts

matti.kuittinen (at)

Architect, D.Sc. Matti Kuittinen is focusing his research on the environmental impacts of humanitarian construction. He has worked in Haiti and Japan and participated into the development of the environmental policies in the field. Kuittinen teaches on several courses related to sustainable construction at Aalto University. He is also taking the research into practice in his office Kombi Architects Ltd.

Kristjana Adalgeirsdóttir

Architect, Doctoral candidate 

kristjana.adalgeirsdottir (at)

Kristjana Adalgeirsdóttir´s research focus is on humanitarian construction, sustainable project management in emergencies and cultural sensitivity in reconstruction. She is an experienced and certified project manager and has led various projects in different fields. Member of ShelterBox Emergency Response team and a Red Cross international delegate, with mission experience from The Philippines, Kenya, Iraq and Ukraine.  Kristjana has been mentoring multidisciplinary SGT student teams in projects in refugee camps in Greece, Tanzania and Brazil and on reconstruction sites in Nepal.

Taru Niskanen

Architect M.Sc., M.Sc. (Chemistry),  Doctoral Candidate

taru.niskanen (at)

Taru Niskanen is a practicing architect and has been teaching the Cities in Transition master’s course at Aalto University since 2009. As part of the course she has introduced student groups to themes such as urban public space, urban planning and architecture in the context of the Philippines and Tanzania. She likes to find practical solutions and to tries different working methods and planning tools while introducing students to the challenges of developing cities.

Taru has worked in projects related to large scale land use issues and town planning. She has special interest in informal settlements, urban upgrading, public transportation and urban infrastructure within big cities in developing world. She has working experience from many different countries in Africa and Middle East.

Zita Floret


Zita Floret is a young architect born in France, whose focus has been to explore participative ways of doing architecture for a more open and inclusive process of planning and creation, and allow a constructive dialogue between the architect and the citizen. She was able to apply and experience those principles for the past 3 years and during her master’s thesis work, with a sanitation project in Tanzania, where she worked directly with communities of the urban poor from informal settlements, to plan and build their own sanitation facilities. Currently she is working independently between Helsinki and Paris.


Sanitation project

Claudia Garduno

Designer, D.A. (Design)

Claudia Garduño García is a passionate designer, who in 2012, as part of her doctoral research initiated Aalto LAB Mexico, an ongoing project which she continues to manage.

“Design as Freedom” (the title of her doctoral dissertation, 2017, Aalto University, School of Art, Design and Architecture) is drawn from revising some of the most relevant moral doctrines which originated in the field of Philosophy and in those terms imagining the best that the new practices within design, such as Social Design, Design for Sustainability and Co-design could contribute towards making the world a better place.

Aalto LAB Mexico

Milja Lindberg


Milja Lindberg is a Finnish Architect committed to understanding how architecture can create and enhance the resiliency of people, cultures and cities to withstand extreme phenomena. She finds inspiration in social capital and aims to design environments for meaningful human interaction. She is currently working on a research project titled Borderline Living – an architectural research initiative about preparing cities and cultures for climate-induced migration through enhancing elements of resiliency and architecture.

Charlotte Nyholm

Architect M.Sc., teacher

charlotte.nyholm (at)

Charlotte Nyholm is a practicing architect and has been teaching the Cities in Transition master’s course since 2014. As part of the course she has introduced student groups to themes such as urban public space, urban planning and architecture in the context of the Philippines. Annual field trips form a central part of the learning experience for students. Earlier, Charlotte has worked on related issues in Cambodia and Ecuador. She has a particular interest in participatory design processes and collaborations with local residents and other actors.

Inari Virkkala

Architect M.Sc.

Inari Virkkala is passionate about the social impacts of the built environment. As part of the working group Komitu Architects Virkkala has designed and realised Kouk Khleang Youth Center in Cambodia, an ecological training center that provides educational opportunities for urban youth in Phnom Penh. Lately she has organized sustainable design workshops in Siliguri, India, Johannesburg, South Africa and Salvador, Brazil.


Anahita Rashidfarokhi

D.Sc. (Tech.) – Department of Built Environment

anahita.rashidfarokhi (at)

Anahita Rashidfarokhi is a Doctoral candidate in the Real Estate Economic Research Group, Department of Built Environment. In her doctoral thesis, she investigates the present status of qualitative sustainability assessment tools and develops an understanding of performance levels of those tools for different built environment activities and projects.  The premise of the review is that is it possible for her to address the identified shortcomings by developing processes and guidelines with the help of which, the less noticed aspects of sustainability can be assessed. At the department of built environment, she is involved with teaching and instructing master’s theses. She also works as the academic coordinator of Creative Sustainability – Real Estate and Water Management. In addition, she works as a part-time remote sustainability consultant for a civil engineering company.

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