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Suomi Seven: The emerging generation raises expectations at the Museum of Finnish Architecture

Suomi Seven: Emerging Architects from Finland, the spring exhibition at the Museum of Architecture in Helsinki, as its name suggests, presents seven Finnish architecture offices whose partners are still in their thirties and forties. The exhibition opens up an inspiring viewpoint on Finnish contemporary architecture, though one that also raises expectations.

In the case of the offices that made the exhibition selection, what is clear is the significance of the Finnish system of open architectural competitions for architects at the beginning of their careers. Hardly anywhere else in the world are architects this young able to realise significant public buildings. When this exceptional opportunity is combined with a high standard architectural education and almost limitless opportunities to both work and study abroad, the result is a strong new generation of professionals. Their expertise raises huge expectations for the quality of future architecture – at least on the premise of this particular presentation.

Only seven superlative offices, however, made the final selection to the Suomi Seven exhibition, the portfolios of which contained sufficiently impressive built projects at the time the exhibition was being put together. Increasingly fewer open architectural competitions are being held, and so if architectural services are procured on the basis only of earlier references, the emergence of young offices will become increasingly more difficult.

Additionally, one must remember that there are also other skilled architects as well as other generations besides the one now on show. The exhibition, publishing and funding systems of our architectural institutions and profession must remain vigilant and open-minded. In addition to supporting the all-star team that promotes Finnish architecture internationally, one must be able to nourish the undergrowth of architects who operate in more experimental or small-scale circumstances.

Architect Anu Puustinen (Avanto Architects) explaining the designs for a new public sauna in Hernesaari, Helsinki at the exhibition press conference.

Architect Anu Puustinen (Avanto Architects) explaining the designs for a new public sauna in Hernesaari, Helsinki at the exhibition press conference.

The Suomi Seven exhibition is on display at the Museum of Finnish Architecture in Helsinki during 24.3–17.5.2015. The exhibition arrived in Helsinki from the Deutsches Architekturmuseum DAM, where it was on display in connection with the Frankfurt Book Fair in autumn 2014 and where it attracted a lot of visitors and media attention. The exhibition at the Museum of Finnish Architecture has been updated somewhat. Added are some projects that are still at the design stage, such as a public sauna for Hernesaari in Helsinki designed by Avanto Architects, which is due for completion in 2016, and an international competition winning proposal by Esa Ruskeepää Architects for the Bildungshaus library and educational centre in Wolfsburg in Germany, as well as a sauna building for the island of Lonna outside Helsinki, designed by architect Anssi Lassila’s OOPEAA office.

The Suomi Seven exhibition was curated by Juulia Kauste, director of the Museum of Architecture, Peter Cachola Schmal, director of DAM, and Anna Scheuermann, a freelance curator at DAM. Consultants for the exhibition were Christoph Pourtois (CIVA, Brussels), Ulf Meyer (Taiwan/Berlin) and Tiina Valpola (Architecture Information Centre Finland). For further information about the Suomi Seven exhibition, please visit the museum’s web page at www.mfa.fi.

The Suomi Seven exhibition is on display at the Museum of Finnish Architecture in Helsinki during during 24 March – 17 May, 2015. In front, some exhibition material of the Sra Pou vocational school in Cambodia  by Rudanko + Kankkunen Architects.

The Suomi Seven exhibition is on display at the Museum of Finnish Architecture in Helsinki during 24 March – 17 May, 2015. In front, some exhibition material of the Sra Pou vocational school in Cambodia by Rudanko + Kankkunen Architects.

Text by Anni Vartola / Archinfo.
Translation by Gareth Griffiths and Kristina Kölhi.