On dwelling in the cold and dark Nordic countries: Two contemporary issues in housing

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The cold and dark winters of the Nordic region place high demands on our built environment, and with forecasts of aging populations, climate change, and the increasing complexity of building technologies and construction, the problems will accelerate further in the near future.

In the field of critical regionalism, the notion of the Nordic has been seen as a way to re-establish the human connection to the lifeworld of places, something that has been lost in modern architecture. Universal, theoretical, or technical approaches seldom take into account the complexity of contemporary life; while, on the other hand, social studies rarely include the technical. By examining complex contemporary life as concurrently technical and social, this article expands on and discusses the notion of the Nordic as being relational in scale. In order to explore the complexity of how context-specific challenges are understood and handled, the analysis is supplemented with the flat ontology of the actor-network theory. The two case studies—1. mould issues in housing; and 2. domestic lighting for rehabilitating low vision—show that both the problems and the approaches to addressing them take place across a continuum of scales.

Various practices translate between levels of abstraction, from the individual to the social to the scientific, an interaction of levels that is further discussed in relation to Norberg-Schulz’s notions of accommodation and assimilation. The two cases illustrate different approaches to the mode of translation, and show that it is fellow actors who cause and also resolve any problem. The crucial task of professional practices, including architecture, is thus managing, navigating, and coordinating between them.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNorthernness
EditorsAnne Elisabeth Toft, Magnus Rönn
Place of PublicationOslo
PublisherNordic Academic Press of Architectural Research
Publication dateSept 2022
ISBN (Electronic)978-91-983797-6-1
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022
EventNAF/NAAR Symposium 2020, 12th Annual Symposium of Architectural research 2020: Northernness - virtuelt
Duration: 22 Oct 202023 Oct 2020
Conference number: 12


ConferenceNAF/NAAR Symposium 2020, 12th Annual Symposium of Architectural research 2020
Internet address
SeriesNAF/NAAR Proceedings Series

Bibliographical note

© 2022 NAAR and authors.


  • Living entanglements
  • Mould issues
  • Domestic lighting
  • Actor-network theory


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