Aalto Media Lab

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The Media Lab is a unit focusing on digital design within the Department of Media at the School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Aalto University in Espoo, Finland. The lab provides MA and Doctoral education, and does research on design and production of digital culture, digital media, interaction design and technologies and the effect they have on society. Media Lab is a coordinator and a partner in number of international research, design and development projects focusing on digital technology, media and culture.


Media Lab was founded in 1993. The first MA program was started in 1994 and the first research group assembled in 1996. Since its formation the Media Lab has been part of a relatively active digital culture scene in Helsinki and its surroundings.

Since 1995 Media Lab has collaborated in, generated and coordinated research and development projects funded by the European Commission, Tekes (the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation), Nordic Council, UNESCO and a number of industrial partners, including Nokia, Elisa, TeliaSonera, Sanoma, YLE and MTV3.

In 1998 the lab became an official department at the university, having existed as a separate unit until then.

In January 2000 the Media Centre Lume – the National Research and Development Center of audiovisual media – was officially opened. Lume is located in the same premises as the Media Lab and offers its resources for study and research projects carried out in the Lab. Experimental and interactive video productions are common in Lume.

In 2003, the Ministry of Education Finland chose Media Lab as one of the national top educational units.[citation needed]

In 2006 Media Lab was invited to the Ars Electronica. The Beta Lounge, Campus Exhibition presented over 20 works by Media Lab's MA, DA and alumni students and its four research groups.

2008 saw the beginnings of Aalto University, a new university. Aalto is the fusion of the University of Art and Design Helsinki where Media Lab is located, Helsinki School of Economics and Helsinki University of Technology.

In 2010, as part of Aalto reorganisation, the Media Lab joined forces with Photography and Graphic Design, formerly of the Visual Culture department, to create a new, larger Department of Media with the School of Arts, Design and Architecture.


Media Lab offers Master of Arts and Doctor of Arts (equivalent to PhD) programmes in New Media Design, Sound in New Media and New Media with specialization to Game Design and Production. Teaching is in English and about 40% of students are non-Finns (2015).


There are four research groups inside the Media Lab:

  • The Learning Environments research group is involved in research, design and development of New Media tools, as well as their use and application, in the field of learning. Besides academic research papers the outcomes of the group are often software systems, software prototypes, applications and scenarios. The group's works are based on the social constructivist theory that sees learning as a participation in social processes of knowledge construction. The Learning Environments research group
  • The Systems of Representation group conducts research into representation, culture, and knowledge in the digital dimension. The group works on research and design projects, educational activities, and publishes frequently on topics such as cultural heritage, design research, new media, synthetic reality and simulation.
  • Crucible Studio, is a research group that studies and develops narration of the digital, non-linear and interactive media.
  • Sound and Physical Interaction (SOPI), a relatively new research group in the Department of Media, focusses on sound and its emerging role in designing new ways of interactions between humans through digital environments. The group’s mission is to investigate and integrate innovative research activities in sound design and physical interaction practices on various levels to advance their roles and impact in the future of media and interactive art.
  • In the thematic research groups and in the Doctoral program researchers also do art and design work and research on topics related to, for instance, interaction design, video game design and production, sonic interaction design, dynamic information visualization, Digital visual art and sonic art.

Notable projects[edit]

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Coordinates: 60°12′34″N 24°58′36″E / 60.20944°N 24.97667°E / 60.20944; 24.97667