Hella Hernberg is an architect and scholar based in Helsinki, Finland. She is specialised in resource wisdom, participation and multi-stakeholder collaboration in the transformation towards sustainable cities and societies. The flexible reuse of vacant properties and spaces is one of her key areas of expertise.

Hella holds a Doctor of Arts degree (2022) from Aalto University, Department of Design, in which she conducted her research as part of the sustainable design research group NODUS. Her doctoral thesis, titled Architects as ‘Mediators’ – Socio-political roles in mediating the ‘temporary use’ of vacant spaces, investigated the roles of mediators in the temporary use of vacant spaces, seen more broadly as part of urban sustainability transformations. Her doctoral research was funded partly by the Kone Foundation and partly by Aalto University. Her doctoral thesis was awarded the Aalto ARTS dissertation award 2022.

Currently, Hella works as a postdoctoral researcher at Aalto University, Department of Design, focusing on mediation in the transition towards circular economy and the reuse of the existing built environment. Since 2010, she has also run her own urban consultancy, Urban Dream Management. In 2012-13 she worked as a strategic designer at the Ministry of the Environment, through Sitra’s Design Exchange Programme, where she led the ‘Vacant Spaces‘ project. She has also edited and published Helsinki Beyond Dreams (2012), a book about local initiatives and urban activism in Helsinki.

At Aalto University, Hella has been teaching and lecturing part-time since 2008. Since 2014, she is a founding and core member of the Design for Government teaching team under the Creative Sustainability master programme. She graduated as an architect in 2008 at the Helsinki University of Technology.

>> Hella Hernberg’s research publications

>> Urban Dream Management

>> Contact: hella.hernberg(a)aalto.fi