Finland @ Venice Architecture Biennale

Finnish architecture at the 15th Venice Architecture Biennale 2016

Finland has a strong presence at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di VeneziaThe Finnish pavilion will host the From Border to Home competition challenge, process, and outcomes. The exhibition and its parallel programme, curated by architect Marco Steinberg and commissioned by Juulia Kauste, director of the Museum of Finnish Architecture, explores solutions to the challenge of housing asylum-seekers and discusses ways to challenge the view that the needs of asylum-seekers excessively burden existing communities.

The main exhibition

Hollmén Reuter Sandman Architects exhibit their work in the main exhibition at the Arsenale venue. There the office will present three community-based design projects: The Women’s Centre (Rufisque, Senegal, 2001), The KWIECO Women’s Shelter (Moshi, Tanzania, 2015), and Learning Centre for garbage collector children (Cairo, Egypt, 2010, unbuilt).

The Nordic Pavilion

The Nordic Pavilion exhibition showcases 300 projects from Finland, Sweden and Norway. Four Finnish projects have been selected for an in-depth presentation: the Puukuokka Housing Block in Jyväskylä, Finland (2014) by OOPEAA Office for Peripheral Architecture; the Finnish Nature Centre Haltia in Espoo, Finland (2013) by Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects; the Seinäjoki City Library in Seinäjoki, Finland (2012) by JKMM Architects; and the Kilden Performing Arts Centre in Kristiansand, Norway (2011) by ALA Architects. Finnish architectural expertise is also exhibited through 46 further projects which have been selected in the exhibition.

Collage of the four Finnish projects on display at the Nordic Pavilion: Kilden (ALA Architects, photo Iwan Baan); Puukuokka Housing Block (OOPEAA, photo Mikko Auerniitty); Finnish Nature Centre Haltia (Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects, photo Mika Huisman); Seinäjoki City Library (JKMM Architects, photo Tuomas Uusheimo).

Collage of the four Finnish projects on display at the Nordic Pavilion: Kilden (ALA Architects, photo Iwan Baan); Puukuokka Housing Block (OOPEAA, photo Mikko Auerniitty); Finnish Nature Centre Haltia (Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects, photo Mika Huisman); Seinäjoki City Library (JKMM Architects, photo Tuomas Uusheimo).

The Time – Space – Existence exhibition

Finnish architecture can also be seen in the Time Space Existence exhibition produced by the Global Art Affairs Foundation. Architects Kouvo & Partanen will present drawings, illustrations, installations and 3D models of some of their latests projects such as the ALMA Atacama Residence (the winning proposal for an invited international architecture competition in 2011), and the Tampere Music Academy (the winning proposal for an international architecture competition in 2014). In addition, the office provides some highlights of their older projects such as the Kaukametsä Cultural Centre in Kajaani (1984–88), Kankaanpää Art School (1995), Finno School and Daycare Centre (2002), and the Sofianlehto group housing project for disabled (2013).

B&M Architects showcase their development project for the historical Bunkkeri (Bunker) building in Jätkäsaari, the rapidly developing, former harbour area in Helsinki. The massive cast-in-place concrete warehouse will be transformed into a hybrid block which fuses housing, indoor sports facilities and cultural services. The project is based on a public-private partnership between the City of Helsinki and construction company SRV.

Helin & Co Architects appear on the exhibition with a presentation designed by architect Hannele Grönlund. The thematic emphasis of the display is wood as a means of artistic expression and a medium of experience. The projects on display include both smaller, private commissions and the widely published office buildings such as the Nokia Headquarters and Extension (Espoo, Finland, 1997, 2001), Parliament House Annexe (Helsinki, Finland, 2004), Finnforest Modular Office (Espoo, Finland, 2005), and Metsä Wood Group and MELA Headquarters (Espoo, Finland, 2012/13).

Architect SAFA Michael Donalds, who lives and works on the Åland Islands, participates in the exhibition with the Welcome Home project which is a study of immigration, multiculturalism of dwelling, and the spatial relationship between a person and her landscape. The office has developed a scale model tool called “The Snailhouse” with which people can explore their own, individual spatial preferences.

Other events

The “IN practice” research project and high-profile international network has selected JKMM Architects from Finland to be included in their new book of best European architecture firms operating outside of the so-called “starchitect” elite. The book, which represents the state of committed architecture in Europe, will be published at Palazzo Windmann on the 26th May, 2016, in conjuction with the opening of the Venice Architecture Biennale. Tarja Nurmi, Finnish architect and distinguished architecture critic, has been one of the expert advisors for the international jury.

Editor’s note 26 April, 2016. We have added Michael Donalds’ contribution to our list of the featured participants in the Time Space Existence exhibition in 2016.

Glimpses of Venice


We have some delightful photos to share from the opening of the Venice Biennale 2014 in June 2014. The photos are by Coen Ruys by courtesy of Museum of Finnish Architecture. Enjoy!  

Read More »

Venice Biennale 2014 Preview

Architect Alvar Aalto and the Alvar Aalto Pavilion in 1956. Re-Creation is presented in the context of the wooden biennale pavilion designed by Alvar Aalto in the golden age of Finnish modernism in 1956. In this context it gains a new interpretation, completing the dialogue between tradition and modernism through the act of its re-creation. © MFA

Venice Biennale 2014 and its 14th International Architecture Exhibition entitled Fundamentals returns to the timeless basics of architecture. Curator Rem Koolhaas, the renowned Dutch architect and theorist, calls for re-establishing the artistic basis of architecture. “In three complementary manifestations – taking place in the Central Pavilion, the Arsenale, and the National Pavilions – this retrospective will generate a fresh understanding of the richness …

Read More »

Found in Translation: Re-Creation in Shenzhen, China

Re-Creation. Installation by Lassila & Hirvilammi Architects at Shenzhen biennale, 2014. Photo: Pekka Turunen / MFA.

In the comedy-drama Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola, 2003), the main characters meet in Tokyo, but despite their apparent mutual attraction, the couple face intrinsic loneliness as they become to realise an irreconcilable difference between their life situations. The translatability of meanings seems to work more agreeably in architecture than in relationships. Museum of Finnish Architecture has taken an intriguing …

Read More »