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Vacant residential buildings as potential reserves: a geographical and statistical study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)816-839
Number of pages24
JournalBuilding Research and Information
Issue number8
Early online date2 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2016
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


Vacant housing has been associated with a variety of interests from economic implications and consequences for the urban structure to the possibility of providing housing for the homeless. In addition to these social and financial aspects, unused buildings have resources embedded in them. They take land from other activities and contain refined natural resources in the form of building components and materials. Therefore, empty buildings can be regarded as reserves for housing and repositories for urban mining, i.e. material extraction. In doing so, these buildings contribute to the resilience of cities. This geographical and statistical study on residential vacancies is situated in Finland, where empty homes may also keep using energy and producing emissions. The research material consists of a vast dataset of all residential buildings with vacancies in Finland in mid-2014, a total of 275 486 buildings with 1 100 267 occupied and 378 802 unoccupied dwellings (52% of the Finnish housing stock). The paper shows several characteristics that increase the understanding of vacancies and their role in the dynamics of the building stock. Public policy should address the issue of vacancy, not only because of social and economic implications but also because of its environmental impacts and opportunities.


  • building stock, housing stock, obsolescence, redundancy, resilient housing, resource efficiency, shrinking cities, vacancy rates, vacant buildings, value conservation, Finland

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Field of science, Statistics Finland

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