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, Swedish
Key Expertise
Architecture, Urban regeneration, Urbanisation, Socio-spatial Inequalities

About me

Working at the intersection of geography and architecture, Heini-Emilia draws from her interdisciplinary background in examining the social and spatial dynamics of urbanisation. Her doctoral research centers on the imaginaries shaping urban change outside of growing cities, focusing particularly on architectural competitions in provincial localities. She will be starting her fieldwork in Finland in early 2021.

Heini-Emilia holds two Master’s degrees, an M.Sc in architecture and an M.Sc in design management, both awarded with Distinction at Aalto University. As part of her degree in architecture, she also completed a semester at the prestigious Tokyo University of the Arts (Geidai) and worked as research and teaching assistant for the Chair of Urban Planning.

Alongside her research, Heini-Emilia advises clients on questions of urban development and housing at strategy consultancy Noren. Prior to joining LSE, she also co-founded Wanderlust, an architectural studio developing innovative designs for museum and gallery spaces. Having collaborated with leading cultural institutions in Finland, the studio’s work has been awarded and published internationally, including in Domus, ARK–Finnish Architectural Review and FORM.

Research interests:

  • Peripheries of urbanisation in the Global North
  • Regional disparities and socio-spatial inequalities
  • Architectural competitions and imaginaries of urban change
  • Place-based identities, aspirations and power relations in urban planning and redevelopment
  • Urban-rural interactions

Skills: CAD, GIS, Adobe CS, Atlas.ti

Recent scholarships and research funding:

  • Asko Foundation Antti Nurmesniemi Scholarship (2020–2021)
  • Greta and William Lehtinen Foundation Grant (2020)
  • Nordenskiöld Society Scholarship (2020)
  • Finnish State Artist Grant for Architecture (2019)

Prizes and awards:

Multiple design awards since 2012, including shared 1st prize in ”Sharing: Tapio Wirkkala Rut Bryk Archive International Ideas Competition” by TWRB Foundation and EMMA – the Espoo Museum of Modern Art (2016), leading to the design commission for Bryk Wirkkala Visible Storage completed in 2017.

Positions held:

  • Co-founder at architectural studio Wanderlust
  • Lecturer and guest critic at Advanced Building Design Studio, Aalto University


Dr Alan Mace
Dr Romola Sanyal