Sara Gottschalk and Juliana Restrepo: Presentation of PhD projects on Sustainable living and Relational home-making

Welcome to a K3 seminar with Sara Gottschalk and Juliana Restrepo, PhD students in Interaction Design. At the talk they will present their ongoing PhD projects.

The title of Sara Gottschalk’s talk is:

Sustainability for rent? Designerly approaches for forms of sustainable living.

The title of Juliana Restrepo’s talk is:

Relational Home-making – An everyday practice focused on existing and potential relations between home, nature and systems.

They will take place on Wednesday, November 6 at 10.15-12.00 in The K3 Open Studio, NIC 0541, Niagara.

Below you will find abstracts for the talks.  

Abstract Juliana Restrepo:

My research positions itself in relation to metadesign, home geographies, feminist theories and sustainability research. The overall focus is on (future) homes and sustainability. I will use the term ‘Relational home-making’ as a concept that focuses on situated care and ethics, and that nurture people’s curiosity to acknowledging the constitutive relations between what is visible/invisible, included/excluded, wanted/unwanted; in practices that create, maintain and develop home(s) and feeling of home(s).

I am interested in exploring how different meanings, narratives, habits create different everyday understandings of home. This exploration will consider a broader perspective about the meaning of ‘home’ while reflecting on the interdependence between a home with its location and the interactions within.

The project aims at building a collection of everyday stories and to co-design ‘new tales’ (stories of practical knowledge) that can create transdisciplinary understandings about how to care and nurture for our homes through sensitization, preparation and collaboration. 

Keywords and concepts:  Home-making, wisdom, resilient, re-orientation, preparation, know-how, survival, everyday doing, well-being

Abstract Sara Gottschalk:

My research starts in an interest in the relationship between design, societal transformations for sustainability and adaptation to climate- and environmental changes. In this transformation, home and housing has a strong connection both to the individual and society at large, and plays a central role to enable various forms of sustainable living. Though many sustainable concepts are being proposed for new buildings, my interest lies in the transformation of the existing housing stock and the possibilities of doing this process in a democratic and collaborative manner, with a special focus on tenants´ position and participation in this transformation.

At this seminar I wish to discuss:

  • How can complex, interdisciplinary and many-level issues such as housing, be approached with a design-perspective?
  • Methodology, design and ethnographic studies: experiences, tips, etc?


The Swedish average environmental impact, can be expressed as about 10TCO2e* per capita (2016) (1) or as consumption equivalent to about 4 planets/year (2018) (2), a clearly – environmentally and socially – unsustainable standard of living. In Sweden, as well as globally, this impact is unequal distributed, but as a quantitative measurement it gives a hint of what is considered as “a normal way of living”. The first Swedish environmental goal (3) stipulates a society without net greenhouse gas emissions after 2045, and a truly sustainable consumption level means consumption within “one planet”. It is hard not to interpret these numbers as a call for major changes of “the normal way of living”, both as individuals and the Swedish society as a whole. Solutions for changes, technologically, economically, politically, culturally and behaviorally are being proposed, but efforts made so far, are not enough.

In the richer parts of the world, lifestyle changes are at the very heart of sustainable change, connecting the everyday life of individuals to infrastructural organizations of the society. One aspect of this infrastructure is housing, where and how we live. In Sweden, a deep split in the housing market has become evident, where sustainability/unsustainability is used in two completely different ways. One the one hand environmental sustainability being branded in new built “flag-ship” areas such as Västra Hamnen in Malmö (4), Kvillebäcken in Gothenburg (5) and Hammarby sjöstad in Stockholm (6); all areas criticized for being targeted towards middle-class/upper-middle-class, and through “tech-fixes” and relative sustainability, green-washing life-styles with rather large environmental impact. On the other hand, the social dimension being discussed in terms of the unsustainable segregation, “renoviction” (“renovräkning”) and a dysfunctional building market targeting another group of people. The current debate about the Swedish housing situation is dominated by the shortage of affordable housing, especially tenure apartments, mainly in the three major cities. The urgent need to build affordable housing has sparked a discussion of building with lower standards of quality. The §marketisation of the housing sector has contributing to the consumerist view of home as an object of investment, and interior design as something to wear and tear, contributing to increased pressure on natural resources. From this perspective, environmental and social sustainability does not meet in the Swedish housing discussion.

 Sustainability, design and life at home

With this background I see a great importance for alternative ways to address, interpret, develop and give form to various ways of sustainable living, and how to make them robust enough to meet future challenges of climate- and environmental changes. In Sweden, 51% of the housing stock consists of apartments, of which just over 59% are tenure apartments (11). I have a special interest in the tenant’s position and opportunities to participate in the design process of various sustainable living formats. In accordance with Allbolagen from 2011 (12) all tenants are to be offered co-influence in the housing and in the housing company (13). Today, there is no praxis in how this is to be done.

This also requires a better understanding of forms for sustainable living. One approach to sustainability is to focus on environmental and social goals of the sustainable development concept, giving the economic dimension a subordinated role, either embedded as a mean in social sustainability or simply as an outcome of environmental and social goals instead of a goal in itself. This can be exemplified in models such as the Global Sustainable Development Quadrant (8), the critical and heterodox doughnut economy model (9) and recently in the Swedish research project Beyond BNP (10). This approach on sustainability is something I am interesting to elaborate with in a housing context.


Overarching research questions:

  • How can sustainable living better be understood in aspects of environmental and social sustainability? And how can it be understood in praxis?
  • What opportunities exist, and can further be developed, for tenants to be part of the design process of creating sustainable living in apartments?
  • How can society transform and adapt the existing housing stock to coming challenges of climate- and environmental changes? What is already being done? What can be done in a design-perspective?



  1. Konsumtionsbaserade utsläpp av växthusgaser per person och år, Naturvårdsverket: (191020)
  2. Living Planet Report, 2018: (191020)
  3. Sveriges miljömål: (191020)
  4. Holgersen, S. (2017). Staden och kapitalet. Malmö i krisernas tid. Göteborg, Daidalos.
  5. Hagbert, P., & Femenías, P. (2016). Sustainable homes, or simply energy-efficient buildings?. Journal of housing and the built environment, 31(1), 1-17.
  6. Wangel, J. (2013). Hur hållbara är Hammarby Sjöstad och Norra Djurgårdsstaden?.
  7. Network, G. F. (2017). Making the Sustainable Development Goals consistent with sustainability.
  8. Raworth, K. (2017). Doughnut economics: seven ways to think like a 21st century economist. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing.
  9. Hagbert, P., Finnveden, G., Fuehrer, P., Svenfelt, Å., Alfredsson, E., Aretun, A., Karin Bradley, K., Callmer, Å., Fauré, E., Gunnarsson-Östling, U., Hedberg, M., Hornborg, A., Isaksson, K., Malmaeus, M., Malmqvist, T., Nyblom, Å., Skånberg, K. & Öhlund, E. (2018). Framtider bortom BNP-tillväxt: slutrapport från forskningsprogrammet “Bortom BNP-tillväxt: scenarier för hållbart samhällsbyggande”. [Stockholm]: KTH Skolan för arkitektur och samhällsbyggnad.
  10. SCB, Drygt 4,7 bostäder i landet.: (191020)
  11. Lagen om allmännyttiga kommunala aktiebolag (AKBL), § 1, paragraf 3 (2010: 879)
  12. Boverket 2014:28, Allmännyttans erbjudande till hyresgäster om boendeinflytande och inflytande i bolaget

* Emissions embedded in production from abroad included.

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