NAF/NAAR Symposium 2020
12th Annual Symposium of Architectural research 2020

22-23 October 2020 at the University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland

Online symposium


The Nordic Association of Architectural Research (NAF/NAAR) and the University of Oulu, Oulu School of Architecture (OSA), proudly join forces in organizing the NAF/NAAR Symposium 2020 and the 12th Annual Symposium of Architectural Research 2020 (ATUT2020), which will highlight and discuss the special features of the Northern context and architectural research in the Nordic countries.

NAF/NAAR ( is an independent association of architectural researchers from universities and schools of architecture in the Nordic countries. NAF/NAAR symposia are held once a year. They are important platforms for critical reflection on architecture and architectural research. To ensure their dynamic and democratic format, the events are conceptualized and organized in collaboration with various partners and are hosted by a different university or school of architecture.

The University of Oulu ( heritage, as one of the northernmost multidisciplinary universities in the world, is invaluable now, when mankind’s new growth frontier is to the North. The demanding conditions of the Far North have always forced people to be inventive and resourceful. Many ICT, health, and clean technologies that have changed the world have their roots here. An estimated 60 per cent of the wireless traffic in the world today is transmitted using technology originally developed in Oulu. In this vein, the designing of the built environment and infrastructure could be a field that plays a crucial role in creating and managing sustainable cities and communities that are viable in the North. To arrive at sustainable solutions, the design and planning processes need to be integrative and user-oriented, and they need to align with the comprehensive life span of the built environment.

However, what is the common-sense understanding of ‘Northernness’ in architectural research and practice today? What defines it, and in which ways does it inform research and practice? With this symposium, we wish to shed light on and theorize the notion of ‘Northernness’, the underlying cultural forces in society that shape—and have shaped—this quality in architecture, architectural education, and architectural research.

We invite scholars and practitioners from the contexts of architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design and planning to pursue the theme of the symposium from fresh and diverse standpoints. Theoretical and practical approaches are equally welcomed, as well as spatial and temporal explorations through different architectonic scales and epochs. All authors should reflect on their research methods and positioning, contextualizing them within architectural discourse and ‘Northernness’ and their particular understanding of the notion.

Besides researchers and practitioners in architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design and planning, we also invite scholars from collaborating fields to present their research on the built environment and its discourse.


The symposium offers world class keynote lectures from experts in architectural research:

Symposium tracks

Day 1 (NAF/NAAR 2020), curated by The Nordic Association of Architectural Research on 22 October, offers a critical framework for broad discussions on ‘Northernness’ on three axes:

1.1 ‘Northernness’ – its history in architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design

Widely used to describe and define architecture from the Nordic countries, the term ‘Northernness’ in architectural research and practice is contested by many scholars, and even considered politically incorrect by some. This track reflects the canon of architectural history and the epistemological construction of ‘Northernness’ or the specifically Nordic in and by architecture, architectural education, and architectural research. In what way has this notion, and society’s understanding of it, developed over time? NAF/NAAR welcomes papers that, in different ways and using different methods and means, deal with the model of Nordic architecture and what it is that makes it Nordic. Papers may focus on case studies, archival studies, literature analyses or reviews, et cetera.

1.2 ‘Northernness’ – its architectural representation and aesthetics

How is ‘Northernness’—or the specifically Nordic—expressed in and by architecture and its representations? This track focuses on ‘Northenrnness’ and its representation and dissemination in various mass media—architectural exhibitions, architectural television programmes, and architectural books, et cetera—which may have an influence on society’s notion of cultural heritage ideologies and collective memory in architecture. It also addresses the aesthetics connected with the so-called Nordic in Northern architecture or, more specifically, how it is—and has been—expressed, interpreted, and cherished in the built environment, in its infrastructure, and also in its arts and crafts traditions and industries.

1.3 ‘Northerness’ – its challenges in architecture, landscape architecture, and urban planning as a design practice

Above all, does it still make sense to talk about regional architecture, ‘Northernness’, or the specifically Nordic in a globalized world? And, if so, how much so-called Nordic architecture contributes to the understanding of global challenges in society and its built environment? How does the concept of ‘Northernness’ specifically allow for posing and confronting the important questions for design practice today? Or is ‘Northernness’ itself being transformed by actual ways of designing? This track is open to different perspectives on the issues of contemporary design practice in architecture, urban planning, and landscape architecture, such as planning processes, housing issues, sustainability and climate changes, et cetera.

Day 2 (ATUT2020), curated by the Oulu School of Architecture on 23 October, offers a practice-oriented framework for discussions. In addition to studies within the architectural discipline, multidisciplinary* research presentations are also welcomed, on the following three topics:

2.1 Northernness’ – Smart and resilient cities in the North

A city or municipality can be considered ‘smart’ when investments in ICT-based infrastructure fuel sustainable economic growth, high quality of life, and wise management of natural resources through participatory government. In addition, in the context of smart societies in the North, the overarching aims are the adaptation to climate change and cultural preservation. In this track, scholars and practitioners are invited to scrutinize urban design and planning as enablers and orchestrators of the development of smart and resilient built environments in the North.

2.2 Northernness’ – Designing for sustainable living, working, and well-being in the North

In the North, people spend a substantial amount of their time inside buildings: dwellings, work environments, schools, care facilities, and public buildings. Multidisciplinary design, development, and realization processes—defining the quality of architecture and the built environment with their characteristics and conditions for dwelling, working, learning, and healing—are crucial for the well-being of people. In this track, we invite scholars and practitioners to present studies or projects that answer the multifaceted research questions arising from these general themes: How to create well-being through design? How can architecture serve users? Research that is related to the social and ecological sustainability of buildings and environments in the North is also welcome.

2.3 Northernness’ – Light and materials as elements of Northern architecture

The Northern regions share common features in terms of climatic conditions and cultural heritage. This track invites research related to elements of Northern architecture, such as light and materials. The research can approach the theme from perspectives of technology, aesthetics, cultural meaning, or design practice. What kinds of solutions are culturally or ecologically sustainable and practical, especially in the North? Are there new innovative technologies that can interpret Northernness in architecture in novel ways?

*This could be, for instance, architecture and urban design in cooperation with computer science, information processing science, economics, lighting design and research, industrial engineering and management, innovation studies, education, health studies, social sciences such as geography, cultural anthropology, interaction and communication studies.


Online symposium venue is Zoom.

Symposium participants will be sent instructions. It is possible to test the Zoom connection in advance. Technical support is available during the symposium.

Key Dates and Deadlines

Second Call for papers: 23 April 2020

Submission of abstract: 5 May 2020

Notification of abstract acceptance: 25 May 2020

Registration opens: 4 September 2020

Submission of full paper, and deadline for presenters’ registration: 15 September 2020

Late registration deadline for audience: 14 October 2020

PhD workshop: 21 October 2020

Networking party: 21 October 2020

Symposium: 22–23 October 2020

Online symposium includes also voluntary social programme.

Tentative Timeline after the Symposium

Improvement of the full paper based on feedback received during the symposium.

Submission of the manuscript for double-blind peer review: 30 November 2020

Notification of manuscript acceptance: 15 March 2021

Submission of revised manuscript: 1 May 2021

Deadline for manuscript proofreading: 1 September 2021

Publication: 1 November 2021


Submit your full paper by 15 September 2020 at the latest.

For Day 1 (NAF/NAAR 2020), send your full paper to:,

For Day 2 (ATUT2020), send your full paper to:


Full paper guidelines for authors presenting Day 1 (1.1-1.3, NAF/NAAR 2020) can be uploaded here.

Full paper guidelines for authors presenting Day 2 (2.1-2.3, ATUT2020) can be uploaded here.


The full paper must be submitted and presented in English.


Symposium fee is 200 EUR and PhD students 115 EUR, and has been discounted for online symposium (updated 30 June 2020). The fee includes the double-blind peer review process for full paper.

Each person participating online in Zoom pays the symposium fee. At least one author pays the fee per full paper. It is also possible to participate without a full paper as audience.


Track 1 full papers are processed according to the NAAR Proceedings Series guidelines with the aim of being published in this series. In the NAAR Proceedings Series, a maximum of 4 authors is allowed per paper.

Track 2 full papers are processed according to the Journal of Architectural Research in Finland guidelines with the aim of being published in this journal.

Both publications have Gold open access and are at level 1 of the Nordic scientific ranking system.

Committee – Editors

NAF/NAAR and OSA will appoint editors for the publications after the symposium.

Information and Homepage

Further information: and

The homepage is under construction.

About the venue in Oulu: