Finnish Architecture stages a Biennial Exhibition of the best in Finnish Architecture and this year 0809 starts its tour in Helsinki before going around the globe. It’s a good chance to look at some great projects, photos and models, step back and survey the progress made and the potential going forward. The exhibition catalogue this year also includes an essay from Peter MacKeith an American who was director of Architecture studies in Helsinki University during the mid to late 90′s summarising his views on the state of Finnish Architecture. He is a great writer and makes a thoughtful contribution here.
Firstly unlike the previous three biennial exhibitions this one contains many housing projects, and some of them are actually quite good (slight irony intended). Churches and Schools which previously supplied the best projects are missing here. There is also a feeling that the judges consciously spread their net a lot wider this time. There is an electrical substation, some master plans and renovations so there is a wider cross section from the built environment, as a result it’s more relevant and larger in conceptual scope than before so thanks to the jurors for this.
Meklin Villa one of my favourites from the show
All this hasn’t brought the quality of the projects down, there are of course some outstanding projects here also which stand out from the crowd. Also the Architecture feels a bit more colourful and experimental. Overall this is a lovely exhibition.
Some notable examples are The Huvitus Housing Terrace, the Anttolanhovi Villas, or Villa Meklin which is a notable addition to the many Archiapelago type summer houses which have often showcased the best of Scandinavian design over the years. Also The Swedish school and the Vellamo centre would not look out of place on any best of list over the last couple of years. So there is strength in breadth and depth here but some missed opportunities too.
Vellamo Boat museum photo by Jussi Tianen
Look at the Salmisaari masterplan and you will see the Architects really thought about opening up the development to its coastline and the public access running through. But if you visit the reality it comes up a little short. But missed opportunities are for the next time and even in Salmisaari so far a high standard has been achieved.
I don’t want to get too much into the debate about how these exhibitions like the Sterling Prize for example can become divorced from the reality of building, that Architects congratulate each other on their fantastic work when their contribution is a only a part of the whole building and design process. Clearly here the line gets crossed a little but doesn’t invalidate the endeavour. It also brings me to this wider issue of stepping back a moment and then looking forward to the future. So what do these buildings tell us about the time and place we live in now? That the distance Finland has to travel to be comfortable in the multicultural and international stage is still a little way off but getting closer. A coherent approach to the environmental issues of today is also clearly lacking, the building industry as a whole here seems to be entirely devoid any approach at all to our times most pressing problem. A symptom I think of the general attitude to this problem as being an infrastructural issue and not having an Architectural remit, we will have to see how this continues to plays out.
The many strands of thinking ,attitudes,styles and new directions that continually inform and run through Architectural practice do not always reveal themselves in a small countries best work even over two years but there is much here to give us hope for an inventive future.
Below you will find a full list of the projects included in the exhibition and a KML file showing all the projects on a map.
- Pasila Machine Workshop Area Blocks of Flats, Helsinki. Architects NRT Ltd
- Blocks of Flats in Myllypuro, Helsinki. A6 Architects
- Oscar Block of Flats, Helsinki. Tuomo Siitonen Architects
- Terraced Housing in Vuosaari, Helsinki. Kirsi Korhonen and Mika Penttinen Architects
- Villa Laulumaa, Oulainen. Anna and Lauri Louekari Architects
- Anttolanhovi Lakeside Villas and Hillside Villas, Mikkeli. Emma Johansson Architects; Timo Leiviskä Architects
- Villa Mecklin, Naantali. Huttunen–Lipasti–Pakkanen Architects
- Loft G, Helsinki. ALA Architects Ltd
- Kyly Sauna, Raseborg. Avanto Architects Ltd
- Ajurinmäki Day-Care Centre, Espoo. AFKS
- Tuomarila Day-Care Centre, Espoo. Auer & Sandås Architects ltd
- Swedish School of Social Science, Conversion and New Building, Helsinki. Juha Leiviskä, Jari Heikkinen
- Maritime Centre Vellamo, Kotka. Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects
- Helsinki Seafarers’ Centre. Ark-House Architects ltd
- Provincial Archives, Hämeenlinna. Heikkinen–Komonen Architects
- Oulu City Offices. Sarc Architects Ltd
- Salmisaari Detail Plan and Cityscape Plan, Helsinki. Helsinki City Plannig Department; B & M Architects Ltd and WSP Finland
- Varma Offices, Helsinki. Tuomo Siitonen Architects
- Salmisaarenaukio 1 Offices, Helsinki. Helin & Co Architects
- National Board of Education, Renovation, Helsinki. Sarc Architects Ltd
- Pori City Hall Restoration. Vilhelm Helander, Tytti Valto
- Paulig Roastery, Helsinki. Tommila Architects Ltd
- Finnish Wooden Boat Centre, Kotka. Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects
- Open-Air Museum Conservation Centre, Helsinki. Häkli Architects
- 110 kV Switching Substation, Helsinki. K2S Architects Ltd
- Ekenäs Harbour Area, Raseborg. B&M Architects Ltd; WSP Finland Ltd
Previous exhibitions 0607
KML of all the projects 0809.