Currently reading: Aalto Leaders' Insight: Sustainable Building Saga: What and why?

Sustainable Building Saga: What and why?

The Sustainable Building Saga is a podcast about recent sustainability trends and developments in the field of building and living. It is aimed at those who work for or find interest in the sustainability of the built environment.




“Saga” refers to the ancient Nordic tradition of stories. This tradition has been especially strong in Iceland, but prevalent in other parts of Scandinavia as well. Old poems and tales have carried echoes of ancient histories, mythologies, and legends. Today, they are valuable part of our culture and have inspired many over the centuries.

Our saga is, however, not looking back. It is future-oriented and aimed at bringing hope amidst the dire environmental crisis we have got ourselves into. The building sector is notorious for its heavy environmental footprint. Instead of falling into despair, the aim is to empower our audience to believe in a more sustainable built environment.

For the first season, we interviewed leading designers, researchers, and policymakers, without forgetting emerging talents. The topics circle around climate change mitigation, flows of carbon, wood construction, and posthumanism.  

The theme of the podcast goes back to the famous Bauhaus School of Architecture and Design, which operated in Germany in the 1920s. The school was quickly closed by the then-Nazi government (it was considered too modern and radical). Despite this, the Bauhaus had a significant influence on modern design and architecture. Much of that is due to its unconventional way of bringing together different disciplines of building design with other arts and sciences.

In 2019, Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission suggested that the ideals of the Bauhaus should be revitalised for supporting the transition to a carbon-neutral and circular society. Soon after that, we established a Nordic program as an arctic outpost of what had been named the New European Bauhaus. Funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers, the Nordic Bauhaus program has been building bridges between policymakers, designers, citizens, and industry.

For the soundscape of the podcast, we have invited ravens to play their part. These black, wise birds were known in ancient sagas to have the role of gathering knowledge and tales from across the world. Hopefully, these podcasts can work in this way too, bringing new ideas and inspiration.

This article is written by Matti Kuittinen

Matti Kuittinen is a Professor of Sustainable Construction at Aalto University´s Department of Architecture and a Senior Specialist at the Ministry of the Environment of Finland.

Kuittinen researches and develops policies for the mitigation of climate change in the built environment and coordinates Nordic policy development efforts in the field of circular economy and low-carbon construction. As an architect, he has designed experimental sustainable buildings and participated in humanitarian operations.

Matti Kuittinen is one of the instructors in the Certificate in Climate, Health, and Cities program.

Back to Aalto Leaders' Insight main page

Find more content on