Heini-Emilia  Saari

Heini-Emilia Saari

PhD candidate in Human Geography and Urban Studies

Department of Geography and Environment

Connect with me

English, Finnish, German
Key Expertise
Architecture, Urbanisation, Urban regeneration, Decarbonisation, Housing

About me

Heini-Emilia’s research bridges architecture and geography to study the uneven social and spatial dynamics of urbanisation. Tracing the shifting geography of timber architecture in Finland, Heini-Emilia foregrounds diverse interconnections and tensions between Finland’s urban ambitions and vast rural forestlands. In the face of the climate crisis, timber has prominently re-emerged in debates around sustainable development as a resonant cultural symbol and sought-after material resource shaping future imaginaries across the urban-rural nexus. From low-carbon urban strategies and competitive architectural visions to international forest politics, timber is embedded in various struggles for sustainable, or indeed liveable, futures. The research draws on multi-sited ethnographic and archival fieldwork undertaken in Finland in 2021–2022. 

Heini-Emilia holds Master’s degrees in architecture and design management from Aalto University, awarded with distinction. As part of her architecture degree she spent a semester at Tokyo University of the Arts (Geidai). Heini-Emilia has teaching experience as a graduate assistant, visiting lecturer and guest critic. Before joining LSE, she advised clients on questions of urban change and housing at strategy consultancy Noren. She also co-founded Wanderlust, an architectural studio developing innovative spaces for experiencing and interacting with art and design. Having collaborated with leading cultural institutions in Finland, the studio’s work has been awarded and published internationally.

Research interests

  • Socio-spatial inequalities
  • Architecture and the politics of urban form
  • Peripheries of urbanisation
  • Urban-rural interactions
  • Decarbonisation and climate urbanism
  • Maintenance, repair and care

Recent awards and funding

  • Finnish Cultural Foundation (2022)
  • Emil Aaltonen Foundation (2021)
  • Asko Foundation Antti Nurmesniemi Grant (2020, 2021)
  • Greta and William Lehtinen Foundation (2020)
  • Nordenskiöld Society Scholarship (2020)
  • Finnish State Artist Grant for Architecture (2019)


Dr Alan Mace
Dr Romola Sanyal 


Expertise Details

Urbanism; Architecture; Decarbonisation; Socio-spatial inequalities; Imaginaries