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Sustainability, natural environment, equality – Nordic building blocks for the New European Bauhaus initiative

Ministry of Education and CultureMinistry of the Environment
Publication date 31.5.2021 11.03
News item

Almost two thousand people took part in the process to create a Nordic perspective for the European Commission’s New European Bauhaus initiative. The participants considered that Nordic values such as sustainability, closeness to nature, equality and inclusion provide a good basis for housing and building. The final report on the outcomes of the Nordic co-design process has now been published and submitted to the European Commission.

“The Nordic countries wish to show how a carbon-neutral welfare society can be built.  This is why I am happy that we got such large numbers of Nordic perspectives and ideas. We will pass them on to the New European Bauhaus team of the European Commission to be used in their future work,” says Matti Kuittinen, Senior Specialist at the Ministry of the Environment.

Finland holds the Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers this year, which is why it also coordinated the process to compile the Nordic views. The five events organised early this year brought together a broad spectrum of stakeholders: architects, designers, artists, students, scientists and public bodies. The themes raised included climate change, circular economy, biodiversity, use of wood in construction, digitalisation, children and the young, learning, equality and wellbeing.

“The quality of the environment we live is very important for us. When the participants of the first event where asked to propose themes for the next event, they wanted to talk about aesthetics. A high-quality environment is not just ecological and well-functioning but also pleasant and attractive,” says Petra Havu, Senior Ministerial Adviser at the Ministry of Education and Culture.

Highlights of the Nordic views

One of the key elements of Nordic design raised in the discussions was equality. Art, design and architecture have had an important role in creating and developing the Nordic welfare society. This should be the case in future as well.

There was a strong focus on sustainable building, and the participants preferred adaptable buildings and renovation to demolition. Transition into a circular economy won strong support as well, especially with respect to construction materials. Wood architecture and nature-based solutions were considered an important part of carbon-neutral construction.

Natural environment and our relationship with nature were considered an important part of human life and the environment we live in. Nature is an important element of the built environment, both for the people and other living organisms. Nature was seen as a source of health and wellbeing, and everyone must have the right to have access to it. Nature was also recognised as a source of innovation in sustainable construction.

One of the topics discussed was the warming climate, which will cause inevitable changes especially in Arctic nature. Arctic environments and landscapes have influenced the Nordic perception of aesthetics, which is also going to change due to the changing climate.

Building of the New European Bauhaus

The New European Bauhaus is a European Commission initiative to promote sustainability, inclusion and aesthetics in the built environment and housing. The aim is to find better ways of living and housing through co-design and co-development – and harness not only science and technology but also creativity, culture and design to solve the great challenges of our time, including climate change.

The content and form of the initiative will be constructed around the European ideas, examples and wishes. Everybody is welcome to participate in the co-design process, including, architects, designers, artists, scientists, companies, civil society organisations, students, children and the young.

The initiative implements the European Green Deal.

In autumn 2021 the European Commission will launch a number of pilot projects on themes to be based on the outcomes of the initial co-design process.

The Nordic co-design and co-development will also continue in the autumn e.g. with an online event on digitalisation in the built environment.


Ministry of the Environment: Matti Kuittinen, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 295 250 268, [email protected]

Ministry of Education and Culture: Petra Havu, Senior Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 330 185, [email protected]