WISA Wooden Design Hotel / Pieta-Linda Auttila


Location: Valkosaari island in Southern Harbour of Helsinki,
Building owner: UPM Kymmene
Construction: 30 to 40 m² / 150 m³
Structure: Wood
Coating: Native woods, Glass
Concept and Communication: Trust Creative Society
Project Year: 2009
Photographs: UPM

“By bending the block I forced the slats into a new form that contrasts with the original arrangement. That which is solid turns partly transparent, that which is strictly geometrical, organic,”

Pieta-Linda Auttila, architect

0008 9834 9939 9970

WISA Wooden Design Hotel is an architectural gem of wood situated in the maritime heart of Helsinki, capital of Finland. Around it lie the city and 200 years of architectural history.

The work was designed by interior architect Pieta-Linda Auttila. She hopes to spark interest in wood and highlight its role in building and interior design.

The WISA Wooden Design Hotel is an outstanding example of wood’s versatility. Here, wood works both as a load-bearing structure and decor in walls, ceilings and floors. The building is a composition of Finnish pine, spruce and birch, and a testimonial to their special characteristics.


When you view the building from a distance, your eye is first caught by the atrium courtyard in the centre; it separates the living quarters at both ends.

The atrium’s shape flatters the liveliness of wood; technically it is the most challenging part of the design.

The long curved pine boards half-covering the patio form a trellis that titillates the imagination. Thanks to the trellis, the courtyard comes alive in a dizzying and enchanting way.

The trellis protects against the wind and filters the long rays of the Nordic sun into the courtyard. The charming interplay of light and shade can be observed throughout the day, as the bright morning light gradually turns into the red glow of the Northern midnight sun.


The striking wood architecture makes its way to the interior, giving Finnish pine another chance to show what it’s made of. But not alone. The pine floor is complemented by the light ethereal beauty of Nordic birch. The walls and the ceiling are panelled with beautiful and durable birch plywood.

This is how Pieta-Linda Auttila describes the idea she realised with the WISA Wooden Design Hotel: “In the beginning was the roaring sea. Powerful waves lifted from the depths a wooden block, already darkened by sea water, and threw it against a rock. The force of the blow broke the wood in the middle.”


The curved part, slashed into strips in the middle, forms a trellis and shelters the courtyard of the hotel. As for the unbroken ends, they are the living quarters.

The dark exterior and light interior of the WISA Wooden Design Hotel likewise represent a broken block of wood.

When the dark surface of the block is cracked, the original lightness of the wood is exposed.

The floor-to-ceiling windows at both ends of the hotel provide plenty of light to the interior. The views complement each other. The bedroom faces the sea and the morning sun. Past the courtyard, at the other end of the space, the view from the lounging area gives onto the city and the evening sun. During the day you can observe a swarming crowd and bustling commercial centre. After the late sunset the nocturnal city’s own lights come on.


The WISA Wooden Design Hotel is based on the winning proposal of the WISA 24h Wooden Design Workshop competition organised by UPM, one of the leading forest products companies in the world.

The building can provide overnight accommodation for a few people, but it is not designed for general hotel use.

Cite: "WISA Wooden Design Hotel / Pieta-Linda Auttila" 11 Aug 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 20 Sep 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=31592>


  1. Thumb up Thumb down +2

    I like the atmosphere; but the buildind will not last very long… so fragile.
    I wish we could see the project two years later.

  2. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    very interesting approach and an intriguing form.
    after a winter or two in Finland, it will be all but falling/pulling apart, but maybe that’s not important…

  3. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Bravo, indeed. Whenever I stumble upon envelope-pushing designs, it seems to have no moderation or portion of which offers a measure of perspective. Here, however, the elastic qualities of wood are presented along side its tried-and-true presentation as a structural and cladding material. Even better, the design somehow contrasts these very different aspects of wooden construction in a cohesive whole that rises above mere conceit.

  4. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I see something that could go anywhere…..

    The central part is interesting and evocative, but the end forms are boring and mundane. I wish it had been pushed a little further and was a bit more evocative as a whole.

  5. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    an elegant idea where the solid breaks down into linear elements and back into solid again at the end.

  6. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    God, that’s beautiful! I just want to grab up a clone of it and put it on some craggy coastal or braided-riverine place in a not very warm in summer part of New Zealand.

    What to say? It’s self-evident how wonderful this is. Tears of gratitude.

  7. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    nice idea….bad representation…..the atrium is a total chaos…..no way to find any beauty in it…..the ugliest things are the vertical posts in the atrium….and the entry…..

  8. Thumb up Thumb down -1

    Shame they used wood.. very inspirational shapes. I might gonna visit it (if its still there lol).

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