From Finlandia Forest to Pikku-Finlandia

Pikku-Finlandia – photo of the north end and the terrace, spring 2022.
Photo © Jaakko Torvinen , Elli Wendelin, nee Hirvonen
Pikku-Finlandia – photo of the lobby, spring 2022.
Photo © Jaakko Torvinen , Elli Wendelin, nee Hirvonen
Pikku-Finlandia – photo of the colonnade, spring 2022.
Photo © Jaakko Torvinen , Elli Wendelin, nee Hirvonen
The main elevation and floor plan of Pikku-Finlandia
Photo © Jaakko Torvinen , Elli Wendelin, nee Hirvonen
Diagrams of life cycle stages and transition stages of Pikku-Finlandia
Photo © Jaakko Torvinen , Elli Wendelin, nee Hirvonen
Exploded partial cross section of Pikku-Finlandia
Photo © Jaakko Torvinen , Elli Wendelin, nee Hirvonen
The winning 'Finlandia Forest' proposal for Pikku-Finlandia. Pastel painting.
Photo © Jaakko Torvinen , Elli Wendelin, nee Hirvonen
Jaakko Torvinen, Elli Wendelin, nee Hirvonen

Project Location
Helsinki, Finland

Urban Regeneration Building, Public space 

Culture Art Gallery, Congress Centre 

Master’s thesis in three parts: Part I ‘Design for a transportable wooden building’, Part IIa ‘The carbon footprint of a transportable building’ and Part IIb ‘Principles of reversible building design in a transportable wooden building’. 

Pikku-Finlandia (Little Finlandia) is a realised student project: a wooden temporary cultural building, where natural pine trees are load bearing columns. After Pikku-Finlandia is no longer needed in its original site, the building is disassembled and rebuilt to serve as e.g. an educational space in other parts of Helsinki for at least 30 years. 

Finlandia Hall, the landmark building by Alvar Aalto in central Helsinki, was announced to undergo a comprehensive renovation from 2022 to 2025. To provide a temporary event space to host the functions of Finlandia Hall during its renovation, a master-level student competition was arranged in the Department of Architecture in Aalto University. The objective was to provide a design that not only resolves the need for temporary event space, but also creates new and attractive space to the open landscape of Töölö Bay. The city of Helsinki set Pikku-Finlandia as a pilot project to examine circular economy in construction, and work towards the city's goal of making Helsinki carbon neutral by 2035. 

Out of 18 design proposals made by students, the design that was selected to be built was created by student Jaakko Torvinen. The concept of the proposal was inspired by a Finnish boreal forest with views through trees. The design concept was further developed with a team of students Jaakko Torvinen, Elli Wendelin, Havu Järvelä and Stine Pedersen of which Torvinen, Wendelin and Järvelä continued as the building's architects until the building was completed in collaboration with Professor Pekka Heikkinen and Architects NRT. All the drawings and the design is by the students. Pikku-Finlandia’s most characteristic feature and a key design element are the 95 tip logs of Scots pines used as load-bearing columns. All the trees are individually chosen from the forest by architects Torvinen and Wendelin and professor Heikkinen. By using whole trees and designing the joints as simple as possible, energy was saved in their production. The trees were peeled with a high-pressure washer and cut to correct length. They were then installed in the modules at the factory and are a structural part of the modules. The modules are made from whole trees, massive CLT (cross laminated timber) panels, wooden hollow-core elements and glue laminated beams. All joints are designed and implemented so that they are visible and openable. The building was completed in early 2022. While Pikku-Finlandia was under construction, Torvinen and Wendelin studied the building’s dismountability and transportability aspects as their written master's thesis work. Wendelin examined the carbon footprint of Pikku-Finlandia, and how transporting a modular building affects its life cycle impacts. Torvinen analysed the disassembly potential of Pikku-Finlandia, and suggested improvements to the recognised challenges in the disassembly phase. Due to the popularity of Pikku-Finlandia, its building permit on Töölö Bay has been applied for an extension. After its first use as an event facility, Pikku-Finlandia will be disassembled and relocated to another site for next use.

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