Archinfo Finland has announced the theme and curatorial team for the Pavilion of Finland at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of the 2020 Venice Biennale. Entitled New Standards, the exhibition conceived by Laura Berger, Philip Tidwell, and Kristo Vesikansa will explore Finland’s timber industry.
The selected American-Finnish trio of academics lives and works in Helsinki. The team, interlinked by their works at the Aalto University, includes Laura Berger a post-doctoral researcher, Philip Tidwell, and Kristo Vesikansa, both architects and lecturers. Their work for the Venice Biennale will highlight the history of Puutalo consortium, which designed and manufactured timber buildings in Finland from the 1940s to the 1980s. In fact, “New Standards presents the story of how Finland’s timber industry and architects came together to solve a refugee crisis, and in the process created a new model for factory-built housing that was exported around the world in the decades following the second world war”.
Factory-built timber housing is an area of huge interest for architects looking to solve the question of how we can build quickly and economically, without sacrificing quality or causing further damage to the environment. While timber construction is a well-known feature of Finnish architecture, few people know the story of Puutalo, the pioneering consortium that produced over 300,000 factory-built homes and set new standards for design and quality of life in Finland, then around the world in the middle decades of the twentieth century.
— Hanna Harris, Director of Archinfo Finland, and the Commissioner of the Pavilion of Finland
The Pavilion of Finland, initially designed by Alvar Aalto, was erected in the Venice Giardini in 1956. Nowadays, it is a protected cultural heritage site. Presented by Archinfo Finland, from the 23rd of May till the 29th of November 2020, the exhibition New Standards will explore the way factory-built timber housing was an elemental factor in the modernization of the building industry in Finland. Read on for the full description from the curatorial team.
A crisis can be a catalyst for innovations and bring different actors together to build a better world. During WWII, when Finland needed to resettle 420,000 Karelian evacuees, the Finnish wood industry and prominent architects came together to create a system of standardized wood element houses. The exhibition reveals the previously untold story of the Puutalo Corporation and how their prefabricated timber houses became the largest ever export of Finnish architecture, with 300,000 houses in more than 80 countries all over the world. The homes with ingenious spatial distribution, practical domestic innovations, and simple structural principles were designed to raise the living standards and built to last, and many of them are still lived in today. Case studies show how these modest houses have adapted to the local cultures and changing needs of many generations of residents.
News via ArchInfo Finland.