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Learnings from Fiskars Summer House, and some designers and furniture companies to remember...

Designers —

1. Samu-Jussi Koski (veranda)

2. Aalto+Aalto (Elina and Klaus Aalto) (diningroom)

3. Man Yao (livingroom)

4. Ulla Koskinen (bedroom)

5. Tero Kuitunen (fireplace)

6. Aoi Yoshizawa (sauna room)

7. Susan Elo (bathroom)

8. Linda Bergroth (summer kitchen)

9. Susanna Vento

Design studios/furniture manufacturers in partnership —

1. Nikari

2. Iitala

3. Artek

4. Anno

5. Hakola

6. Lapuan Kankurit

7. Woodio

8. Fiskars

9. Fiskars

Artists that served as inspirations —

1. Tove Jansson

2. Sasha Huber

3. Erna Aaltonen & Howard Smith

4. Helene Schjerfbeck

5. Rauha Mäkilä

6. Rut Bryk

7. Ryuichi Sakamoto

8. Vuokko Nurmesniemi

9. Maire Gullichsen

Architecture of the summer house designed by —

Studio Joanna Laajisto

- Helsinki based boutique design agency, founded in 2010

- Works in the fields of commercial interiors such as retail, hospitality and workplace design as well as product and concept design

Villa Mairea

- House that Alvar Aalto designed for Maire’s family

- The gardens and the interior plants make the historical, almost pompous estates feel like home


At the design museum the other day, there was an iPad that asks you "who's your artist match", mine was "Maija Isola", the textile designer that created the rebel flower, Unikko, who have although spent most of her life in Finland, but also lived in France, Algeria, and the US.

- She created art based on plants, based on Slavic folk art, inspired by Appalachian Mountains

- Arab patterns while dating Egyptian in Paris

- Patterns span the styles: "minimalistic geometric", "toned-down naturalistic" and "explosion of colors"

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Fiskars Summer House Opening Party

Observed the works of interior designers.


Day Trip to Porvoo. Medieval town with the cathedral as its main sight.

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Toured the architecture by Alvar Aalto

Functional, durable, & attention to detail, it's amazing.

Aalto Campus Tour

Room where faculty meets; Architecture makes professor feel important

Aalto studied antiquities. Not symmetrical, but fragmented amphitheater

The library and architecture faculty are humanist

Faculty and students have separate entrance. The design of the buildings is very functional

3 levels of library used to be: library of science and technology

But ever since all became digitalized, the spaces are left vacant; became a problem. How to keep architecture in its original use is the question

Arts and architecture (not science, engineering) has a lot of prints, to keep occupied

The vacancy, remodeled to adapt new functions. Lower level - cafe, can talk loud. But the upper level is left with the original feeling

Aimo Nissi of Aalto University

Bottom floor: Now more practical because there are a lot of group work for people to discuss, and the space is designed in a way to encourage discussion as opposed to a quiet environment of the upper floor

3 levels demolished to become 2 levels to allow for taller installations at the bottom floor. Can still see the remaining columns

Very contradictory around the 1960s: student union building. Not widely accepted, when Luis Kahn came he said it's not architecture

Reima Pietilä — Dipoli Student Unions Building

Students organized/funded and built the Dipoli, but now it's no longer a student building (faculty, cafe etc), (and student union is this sad building next door)

Heikki and Kaija Siren — Otaniemi Chapel

Aalto style: free, with space. vs strictly rectangularity of the Okaniemi chapel: nature is part of the building

Kaija Siren (chapel)

Combo of industrial metal details and wood structure; compare to Aalto's only wood (more romantic). Whereas combo with industrial metal is more technical oriented

Munkkiniemi — Home of Alvar Aalto

Designed by the Aalto couple in 1936

2 functions: home & studio

Brick wall, wood, concrete, different materials. It's a mix of different structures - experimental house, test house what interested them since it's their home

Garden as one extra room of the house. House looks diff in diff seasons (plantations, vines)

When the building was built, no other building was nearby

House KELA — The Social Insurance Institution

Kela Hall (Social insurance pension institution): "Elevating the everyday" open space on the inside; Expensive materials used (marbles from Italy and Belgium) and was criticized. But Aalto believed in durable materials, which he was right the materials still last to today

Leather on the handle so it feels nice. A lot of details

First open plan office in Finland; skylight, "alvar's church"

Colors; Arabia. Continues in the building

Curtains in the dining room to reduce noise

Kulttuuritalo — House of culture

Built by Finnish communist party in the early 50s. Close ties to Moscow at the time, commissioned Aalto.

The round building with all the offices, is designed by the same architect that did the chapel

Hakaniemi: market hall is under renovation so have a temporary building, but it's even more of a success than the old one so they might decide to keep it

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Sitting at the research symposium, realizing I'm not all that interested in these research topics and the takeaways is more the awareness that these research disciplines are happening, a world I otherwise would not have been acquainted with if I hadn't looked for it. 

Though, first time on the campus of Aalto-yliopisto, a school I almost applied to attend. Named after Alvar Aalto — Finnish architect, designer and alumnus of the former Helsinki University of Technology, who was also instrumental in designing a large part of the university's main campus in Otaniemi.

More on Alvar Aalto:

- Gesamtkunstwerk — design not just the building, but give special treatments to the interior surfaces and design furniture, lamps, and furnishings and glassware.

- furniture designs = Scandinavian Modern — a concern for materials, especially wood, and simplification but also technical experimentation; patents for various manufacturing processes, such as bent wood

Critical Traditions

- university as built form, has its own story to tell, with its location, ambitions, and urban design inspiration; even more so in newly established universities in formerly colonial countries in Asia, Africa, and Mid-East: in this case — University of Baghdad — University campus is the actual ‘documentation’ of all those urban, political, social- cultural changes that the city of Baghdad faced since the establishment of the University (1950s)

- concepts stem up in geographically dispersed locations and in separate times, and yet they find their way back into the modern condition

- Throughout the 1970s, American sculptor Charles Simonds built tiny architectural structures — "Dwellings" — in the streets of New York, as well as in other cities; mostly in the gutters, cracked walls, and empty lots of the impoverished Lower East Side, poorly-maintained infrastructure of that neighborhood, aftermath of “urban renewal,” a ruthless gentrification process that sought to move residents out of their homes and to build new, modern, and expensive apartment buildings

Alternative Histories

- on-going, large-scale transformation of the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm; first public museum building in Sweden and has been closed for renovation since 2013, opening again in October 2018. (many of the additions and changes that derive from the 1960s have been removed. Most alterations made in the 1920s have been preserved and are acting as models for some of the new additions) — the transformation adds to a narrative of permanence and authenticity rather then the history of continuous change

- Air-conditioning; by focusing on the early stages of modern air-conditioning in Finland, to enhance the understanding of disadvantages caused by unstable energy consumption

- genealogy of apartments: recent rise of so-called ‘flat ontologies’, apartments inform a new-materialist approach to history

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Alright so, to prepare for the symposium tomorrow so that I can get the most out of it, let's preview all these professors/architects who will be speaking.

It's amazing how, I never cared about academics back at UCLA. I've coasted along classes; never seriously read any textbooks (excepted sitting at the library skimming the night before an exam), but still managed a magna cum laude. Perhaps I was never truly interested in any of those subjects.


Rethinking Historiography

- James S. Ackerman (1919-2016) and Colin Rowe (1920-1999)

- Both wrote about Andrea Palladio

- making links between the villas of Palladio and those of Le Corbusier to argue that modernism had classical origins

- reading of William J.R. Curtis’ Modern Architecture Since 1900 (1982), a transitional period in the history of modern architecture: between the establishment of research degrees in North American schools in the 1970s, and the consolidation of the discipline as the subject matter of historiographical research in the 1990s

- Learning Architectural History from the Travelers — subjective observations as opposed to official/technical documentation (more often used as supplemental data and often ignored); but the expressions of individuals’ understanding of the built environment can be valuable

- potential of personal narratives as historical data in architecture (i.e. Ottoman mentality at the time)

Systems and Mediations

- interests of architects in psychology: Higher Artistic and Technical Workshops (Vkhutemas) in USSR (1920s) to spread this ideology in education

- the role of how paintings are mounted ("mounting system of artworks") would affect palazzo/museum experience; rationalist architects

- cohabitation between historical furnishings and modern(ist) furniture in new Yugoslav apartment homes in the 1960s

- Czechoslovak architectural journals indicate its development of urban planning depended on Western ideas

Contested Histories

- Ernests Štālbergs — experienced 2 world wars and 5 political regimes — socio-political changes can affect the architect’s life and projects

- Post-war reconstruction in West Germany: tension between preservation vs. reconstruction and modernization vs. traditional architecture

Mapping Change

- mixed-use streets as spaces of continuity and change; streets in historic city centres an important part of cultural heritage

- methodology to document and map the evolution of use on historic streets and demonstrate the inter-dependence between use and the built fabric

- urban change in post-Socialist Tallinn - influenced by the Eastern and Western Europe, tells a story of the changing character of urban landscapes in recent history: suburbanization led to scattered urban landscapes and fragmentation

- Chinese housing market evolution: company China Vanke Real Estate Co. Ltd. (1988-2016) — role of an individual company in innovating the market and shaping commercial houses; using business history into the study of housing and residential design

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Learn from experience.

Experienced Löyly, popular Finnish sauna.

Chose to come here because of its beautiful architecture. I find it helpful to learn from being here, observing, imprinting the story behind the architecture into memory. To experience why the structure is designed the way it is, sense of privacy, comfort, as created by the building, the Finnish sauna, and dipping myself in the Baltic Sea.

Löyly Helsinki —

By architects Ville Hara and Anu Puustinen of Avanto Architects. 

- free form concept with triangular faces

- taken from the Löyly website. I love how the description on the official website is written by the architects

- sustainable material and food


- unique site. close to city center yet with the landscape of the outer archipelago; connecting to the Baltic Sea

- slim design to accommodate the narrow park strip

- volume low as possible to not block views from the future residential blocks

- when the wooden building turns gray, will look like a rock on the shoreline (impressive that they consider the natural weathering of the material)


- a rectangular black box containing the warm spaces that is covered with a free form wooden “cloak" 

- sculptural structure gives sense of visual privacy 

- cloak forms intimate terraces between slops for sitting; shades building from harsh coastal climate; shades interior spaces thus reduce energy consumption


- by Joanna Laajisto Creative Studio, design to compliment strong architecture of the building

- approach called "soft minimalism"

- people feel the most comfortable sitting with their backs against the wall, hence raised platform of the bar area to create the "wooden half wall" for table spaces, with great views to the Baltic sea

- black concrete, light Scandinavian birch wood, blackened steel and wool (Kvadrat) — durable materials; recycled material

- bar stools by Gubi and wooden charis in the sauna lounge by Finnish Nikari; string lights by Micheal Anastassiades to create rhythm to the space without blocking views of the sea

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Today, I went to Sibelius Monument and Temppeliaukio Church in Töölö.

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Yesterday, I met a Finn who gave me suggestions on where I can study up on Finnish design —

- Lahden muotoiluinstituutti

- Aalto University (formerly known as "taek")

- Hank

- Kuopion muotoiluakatemia

Aalto is the must prestigious, but the others may be more practical.

Industrial designers are common, but mostly from universities. 

And I was right in that, many of the products you see in the States but never know where they're from, is probably from Finland. So my 2010 impressions were rather, not too far from being accurate.

Additionally, can take the commuter train (or drive) ti see the summer residences of 3 architects hvittrask (white lake)

Espos museum?

We've : future house

Also met glassblower Saara, who goes to her studio Tuesdays/Thursdays and planning to start her own company. Pretty sure I heard she said she works with iittala, which is one of the most renowned brands in Finland.

She suggested Glass museum in Riihimäki

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Always believe that learning is made the most efficient when I immerse myself in the right environment. And that includes language learning, as well as in this case architecture; planting myself in the home to some of the greatest architectural innovations in history.

Now that I'm in Helsinki — time to find architectural events 

Open lecture with Juhani Pallasmaa

I wonder if I can just show up since I am most definitely, not a PhD student.

European Architectural History Network (EAHN) conference in Tallinn, Estonia, 13-16 June 2018

Looks like Tallinn is just hours away across the water.

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I came across this quote.

"Working free of charge is a shame if you spend your entire life doing unpaid internships. On the other hand, it is highly noble if you build for those who cannot afford to hire you. Architecture is undisputedly one of the strongest tools that can change the situation in developing countries for the better. To this end, architects need to willingly volunteer to build for the greater good."

Perhaps, a resounding goal I have in learning about architecture, is the idea that architecture changes lives in ways that affect the rich and the poor, in very tangible ways. If one can commission design for the rich, build amazing out of the norm dream homes in remote locations, maybe the profits made can be used to build dream homes for the poor.

By building in developing nations, can "see cultures, customs, materials, and building techniques you never knew about. You might as well take awesome innovative design solutions back to your office."

"Just a simple structure can turn a dead neighborhood into a thriving community. TYIN Architects’ Klong Toey Community Lantern, for example, turned a slum into a friendly neighborhood."

- Bangkok

- Norwegian firm TYIN Tegnestue ( in Norway

- built lively multi-use community center in abandoned lot — stage, a community center, a reading room, a football court, a climbing area and a meeting place

- signaling hope for sustainable development

- workshops since day 1: "participatory design approach", structure to stimulate social interaction the day you start building it

- slum dwellings with lack of healthcare, education, sanitation, etc

- took a year to build; researched the area and built trust with community members to get their opinions

- simplicity, repetitive logic and durability of the structure ensures that it will be long lasting and of use to the community for many years

- design encourages adaptations or updates as the community sees fit over time

- TYIN Tegnestue also built community library in Bangkok using recycled materials

"Architecture is, in fact, THE step ahead for developing countries! How else would these countries be developed if not through the provision of proper infrastructure?"

- "5468796 Architecture". a Winnipeg-based architecture practice founded in 2007. The practice name incorporates its company registration number. (very interesting)