Susane Havelka

Office: IIC 2005

Dr. Julia Christensen

Previous Education:PhD (McGill),  MARCH (Columbia), BSAD (MIT)

Title of Project:
Testing the links among housing quality, self-building and well-being: lessons from Greenland and NWT

Current Projects as co-investigator:

  • Improving community well-being through housing — led by Dr. Mylène Riva, McGill University
  • Community-led housing in the Canadian North: mobilizing the development of supportive housing plans through knowledge sharing and engagement in the NWT and Nunavut—with Dr. Julia Christensen, Mylène Riva and Ellie Stephensen
  • New Partners in Northern Housing and Homelessness — led by Dr. Julia Christensen

Postdoctoral Research Project Description

While established science links housing quality and health (Riva, 2018), little light has been shed on the relationship between housing quality and self-building. In particular, there is a lack of studies on self-building and community well-being. Building upon my PhD dissertation Building with IQ: The Rise of a Hybrid Design Tradition in Canada’s Eastern Arctic, where a well established self-building tradition already exists, this postdoctoral study aims to explore self-building as another path to housing delivery and to understand how it correlates with housing quality, quantity and well-being.

Using communities in Greenland and NWT as case studies, the central question this research proposes to answer is: how can housing-delivery based on self-building improve housing quality, quantity and well-being? and how can our existing housing delivery system enable self-building?

Awards and Distinctions

  • RAIC Urban design Award with the community of Kuujjuaq (2018)
  • FQRSC Doctoral Scholarship (2013-2016)
  • Schulich Graduate Fellowship (2012)
  • Columbia University Tadao Ando Award of Excellence

Special Events and Presentations

CCA 2016 co-curator of the Inter-University Design Charrette
Reassembling the North

2017 Kuujjuaq Hackathon

Research Groups and non-for-profits

Research areas

  • Housing and well-being
  • Self-building and cold-climate housing
  • Sustainable communities and cultural landscapes in northern regions


Bhatt, V., Harlander, D., Havelka S.,
March 2020, Blueprint for a Hack: leveraging informal design practices (in press), Actar publishing, Barcelona.