After a busy year in the office, the holidays give us a welcome chance to slow down for a moment. This is a time to pause to reflect on the past year and to say thanks to our amazing team for their hard work and to our wonderful collaborators with whom we have been able to accomplish a lot together. We want to express our heartfelt thanks to all of you!
During this year, the biggest highlights for us have been the completion of the Tikkurila Church and Housing, as well as the conclusion of the construction phase of two exciting projects of restoration and renovation, that of the Villa B in Ciutadella, Menorca, Spain and the restoration of the Rauhalinna Manor in Savonlinna with new buildings added to complement the mansion. We are looking forward to having the final finishing touches made in 2022 to both the Villa B and the Rauhalinna.
The Tikkurila Church and Housing is a multifunctional complex containing a church with a café, offices and meeting spaces for the community as well as an adjoining apartment building offering student housing and affordable rental apartments with shared facilities and retail space.
The Villa Ciutadella is an example of a project of transformation in which an old structure in the heart of a historical city is turned into a villa of contemporary standards.
The project for the restoration and renovation of the Rauhanlinna Manor, in turn, provides an example of how a layer of contemporary architecture with a voice of its own can added to complement a historical landmark in order to improve its functionality.
All of these projects, each in its own way, can be seen as attempts to reboot our thinking and activity as architects and builders in face of the challenges and opportunities presented by the contemporary context of the world today.
2021 has also given us the inspiring experience of seeing two long-term research projects to meet important miles stones and open new opportunities for continued development in the future, the JOKOTAI Material Impact Screener and the Timber Toolbox. Both projects deviate somewhat from the more typical architectural work of designing buildings. As slightly unusual projects, they have given us a great chance to reflect on the values and underlying assumptions behind our work as architects and designers.
The JOKOTAI Material Impact Screener is an internet-based tool for the early assessment of the impact of our material choices in a building project.
The Timber Toolbox provides a library of architectural tools mapping the myriad benefits of using wood in building for developing our cities as socially, ecologically, and economically sustainable places.
Much like the previous year, the past year 2021 has been marked by varying levels of restrictions related to the extended presence of the COVID-19 virus in our lives. While forcing us to limit our social interactions to small circles, it has also prompted us to find ways of keeping connected with people in our extended networks even when we are not able to meet with each other in the physical realm. By limiting the possibilities to travel, it has highlighted our need for social interaction with others and made visible the myriad levels of connectedness that bind our global world together today.
Participation in such events as the International Architecture Convention in Budapest, the London Architecture Festival, The PLAN Forum Perspectives in Italy, and the ADM Summit on Designing the New World Order in India over the Internet has given us a welcome opportunity to engage in dialogue with our colleagues in different parts of the world even during this time when it hasn’t been possible to travel to meet people in person.
Similarly, publications and interviews, such as The Architect – Reboot edited by Gihan Karunaratne and the interviews on the use of wood in architecture by the PLAN and IBOIS have also played an important role in allowing us to exchange ideas and to share experiences during this time of limited opportunities for face-to-face interaction. We have also had the opportunity to share our work in numerous publications both in Finland and internationally, including the Villa Koivikko having been featured as the House of the Month in the Architectural Record and Tikkurila Church and Housing being featured in the PLAN Magazine.
During this year, we have also had the pleasure of having two of our recently completed projects nominated for the Mies Award 2022, the Villa Koivikko and the Tikkurila Church and Housing, which was also awarded the Durable Stone Building 2021 Award. Anssi Lassila receiving the Pro Finlandia Medal in recognition for his contribution to the Finnish culture was a very special highlight for the entire office in 2021.
For our work together in the office as teams, the prolonged experience of the COOVID-19 virus has meant varied opportunities to come together in the physical space of the office intertwined with periods of remote work and collaboration online. Despite the challenges brought on by the restrictions limiting the possibilities for the entire team to come together at the office, our teams have shown a remarkable ability to develop ways of keeping together and maintaining a good sense community. During the year, we have had the pleasure of welcoming Otto Heinonen as a new member to our design team in Seinäjoki. The year has also brought on a significant change to the team as Teresa Frausin, a longtime member of the Seinäjoki team, decided to relocate back in her native country, Italy, after eight years at OOPEAA. We are happy to continue to collaborate with her in her new role in the true sense of remote work now even after her move to Italy.
Many exciting new projects await us in the coming year. While some of them are already on the drawing board and in various stages of the design process, some are just about to begin. With best wishes for a peaceful holiday season, we look forward to continued collaboration with all of you in the coming year 2022!