Aalto University Harald Herlin Learning Centre

Insight, co-creation and a service concept to transform an iconic building

#insight #strategy #service design

Co-creation of a future learning centre

By 2021, all the Aalto University’s activities will be centred on a single campus. This means that the university’s three main libraries – for Technology, Design and Business – needed to be brought together under one roof.

Tuomas Uusheimo: AALTO 20161103, Aalto-yliopiston Oppimiskeskus / Aalto University Learning Centre, Espoo, Finland

Tuomas Uusheimo: AALTO 20161103, Aalto-yliopiston Oppimiskeskus / Aalto University Learning Centre, Espoo, Finland

Key figures:


Students involved


Developed service concepts in use


Visitors per month since re-opening

The challenge

“Why would I go to the Learning Centre if almost all the world’s content is available via my laptop or phone on the couch at home?”

To tackle the challenge of three actors coming together, Kuudes decided to create three service design teams to co-design the Learning Centre concept with the facilitation of Kuudes’ professional service designers. Each of the teams comprised students, teachers, researchers and other stakeholders mainly from the discipline in question.

Our goal was to find a new service concept that supports the library’s change from a traditional borrowing and lending environment to a lively multichannel Learning Centre. A centre that supports learning both individually and in groups, serves as an inviting meet-up hub, and is an ideal place to showcase the university’s activities. To make this reality, we adopted a three-phase approach to the design process.


The solution

Service promise: Learning together makes us
the best in the world

aalto-learning-center-kuudes-kerros-12Information & Learning

We help you understand and quickly find the best academic content


We offer versatile and inspiring spaces for working and learning, alone or in groups

aalto-learning-center-kuudes-kerros-8Events & Networking

We offer a context for you to meet people with similar interests

aalto-learning-center-kuudes-kerros-13Personal Productivity

We encourage better daily routines for working and studying

New services through co-design

“The service design project has inspired us with a new way to look at the work I have been doing since the 1980s. I’m not pigeonholed – I’m in contact with customers. I thought that age was an obstacle to renewal, but it’s not!”



Science & Art Square
“It’s been amazing how well we’ve collaborated, making research a little closer to everyday activities and the students.”

– Employee

Lock and Load Service
“The lockers which allow students to store and charge their electrical devices have been heavily used.”

– Employee

Science & Art Square (Showcase) “Its been amazing how well we’ve collaborated, making research a little closer to everyday activities and the students.” – Employee

Cave Room
“I have been here every day for the last two weeks – it’s a great space!”


Digital archive
“I take care of the digital information with cultural heritage. Researchers and students use our work.”

– Employee at the new visual resource center


24/7 Working Space
“A space to work before deadlines has been really useful for me”

– Student


1. An improved employee experience

Thanks to employee participation, staff members from the different schools became a single unit and got to reimagine their own future roles.

“I’m excited about my job in a whole new way!”
– Employee

2. A shift towards customer orientation

The user-centric design process has also been used as a reference for developing Aalto University’s general guidelines for spatial design.

“The customers themselves have created exactly the environment they need.”
– Employee

3. The centre has been embraced by its users

In the first few months after the opening an average of 25,000 visitors per month used the new centre.

“I just came back from a study break and I’ve been here every day for the past two weeks.”
– Student

Artboard 2

Execution & recognition

Our concept documentation worked as a brief for the actual renovation planning and interior architecture of the new Learning Centre, including a roadmap for concept implementation and beta-testing. Lead architects in charge were Teemu Tuomi and Tuomo Remes of NRT Architects and the interior design is by Päivi Meuronen of JKMM Architects.

After the opening, the Learning Centre has been awarded the following prizes:

  • HURRAA! award by the Building Control Committee of the City of Espoo in August 2016.
  • Finlandia prize for Architecture for the renovation planning in October 2017.

For more information contact:

Jari Danielsson
CEO, Kuudes Nordic
+358 40 730 9612

Photographers: Tuomas Uusheimo, Juuso Salakka