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Adaptability of mass housing: Size modifications of flats as a response to segregation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)408-426
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Building Pathology and Adaptation
Issue number4
Early online date15 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sep 2018
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed



When dwellings fail to respond to residents' needs, housing will suffer from segregation and buildings will possibly be demolished ahead of their time. This paper focuses on the lack of variation in the sizes of dwellings as a factor in residential segregation. It examines this issue in the context of Finnish mass housing built in the 1960s and 1970s. The aim of the article is to review how mass housing layouts can be adapted to produce the currently absent flat sizes.


The paper operates at the intersection of human geography, building stock research and adaptability research. First, statistical data is utilised to investigate how dwellings and households of different sizes are distributed over the Finnish housing stock. Secondly, the building layouts of mass housing are examined in detail. Thirdly, the potential that flats in mass housing have for size modification is reviewed.


There is a disparity of available dwelling sizes between different housing types, and statistics show that the proportion of large households has decreased significantly in blocks of flats over the last decades. The lack of large dwellings in mass housing may contribute as one factor to the segregation of the neighbourhoods built in the 1960s and 1970s. The findings show how the variation of apartment sizes can be increased in mass housing.


The housing stock is rarely examined in detail in segregation research, even though it is a major determinant for a city’s social structure. This paper argues that to address segregation sustainably, it is necessary to understand the housing stock better and to view it as an adaptable asset.


  • adaptability, apartment sizes, flexibility, housing stock, mass housing, residential segregation

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Field of science, Statistics Finland

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