Venice Biennale 2012: Finnish Pavilion presents “New Forms in Wood”

Venice Biennale 2012: Finnish Pavilion presents “New Forms in Wood”
Kilden Performing Arts Centre; Kristiansand, Norway / ALA Architects © Ivan Baan

Wood has always been Finland’s preferred building material, as both nature and the forest has long provided a livelihood and enduring source of inspiration for Finnish artists and architects. Now, with the use of modern technology and new treatment methods, Finnish architects are pushing the boundaries of this conventional material to unleash new creative potential. To celebrate the reopening of the newly restored, Alvar Aalto-designed Finnish pavilion at the 2012 Venice Biennale, “New Forms in Wood” will highlight the work of young Finnish architects who have used wood inventively in their recent works.

Continue after the break to review the exhibition’s featured projects and architects.

ALA Architects have created an undulating overhang of massive oak to welcome visitors to Kilden, the Performing Arts Center in Kristiansand, Norway.

Avanto Architects have designed a wooden public sauna with a striking organic form that blends uniquely with the landscape of its coastal park setting.

Kilden Performing Arts Centre; Kristiansand, Norway / ALA Architects © Ivan Baan

Eero Lunden and Markus Wikar have applied computer algorithms to create the light-framed wooden construction of their temporary pavilion in Turku.

Hernesaari Sauna complex; Helsinki, Finland / Avanto Architects © Avanto Architects

Exquisitely crafted wood is a key element in K2S Architects‘ Chapel of Silence, a meditative sanctuary in one of the busiest areas in downtown Helsinki.

Pudelma; Turku, Finland / Eero Lundén & Markus Wikar © Taavi Henttonen

Kuokkala Church by Lassila Hirvilammi Architects is a dialogue between tradition and cutting-edge wood construction technology.

Chapel Of Silence; Helsinki, Finland / K2S Architects © Marko Huttunen

The temporary World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 Pavilion designed by Wood Program at Aalto University on the basis of a concept by PYRY-PEKKA Kantonen exemplifies how innovation and research in wood technology is a key part of the education of architects and designers in Finland.

Kuokkala Church; Jyväskylä, Finland / Lassila Hirvilammi Architects © Jussi Tiainen

Alvar Aalto, renowned for his skillful treatment of wood architecture as well as furniture, was commissioned in 1956 to represent Finland at the International Exposition in Venice. Then, the wooden structure represented a rather unusual choice of building material by Venetian standards. Although it was originally intended for temporary usage only, the Aalto Pavilion has become a permanent fixture in La Giardini Biennale Park. However, last autumn the wooden structure was seriously damaged by a fallen tree during a storm. The accident prompted an in-depth exploration of the building’s history and construction technique, which inspired this year’s exhibition to celebrate contemporary expressions in Finnish architecture as part of a long tradition of wood building and as part of a shared frame of reference for all Finns.

Helsinki World Design Capital 2012 / Wood Program © Aki-Pekka_Sinikoski

The exhibition is curated by Juulia Kauste. Exhibition design by Esa Vesmanen, Pure Design.

The show is organized by the Museum of Finnish Architecture and supported by the Ministry of Education and Culture, Finland and World Design Capital Helsinki 2012. The exhibition is a satellite event organized as part of the World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 program.

Finland is also the organizer and a co-exhibitor in the Nordic Pavilion’s Light Houses: On the Nordic Common Ground exhibition – more details to come.

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Cite: Karissa Rosenfield. "Venice Biennale 2012: Finnish Pavilion presents “New Forms in Wood”" 22 Aug 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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