Welcoming the new year 2021

After the very unusual year 2020 we are now happy to welcome the new year 2021. Thanks to the wonderful team at OOPEAA and the great partners that we had the pleasure to work with, we managed to carry on well with our work even in the challenging circumstances brought on by the pandemic in 2020, and we now have a lot to look forward to in 2021.

The new Tikkurila Church will be inaugurated in January 2021.

The construction of the new Tikkurila Church was completed just at the end of the year and the church will be inaugurated in January 2021. The adjoining Bethania Housing will be completed in the spring and it will be ready for the new residents to move in by the summer. Centrally located in Tikkurila, the new church building forms an identifying landmark for the neighborhood. It has a strong presence in the street-scape and it is easily accessible.

Offering a range of flexibly adaptable spaces to accommodate a variety of uses, the multifunctional building will serve the community in many ways. The main church hall will seat an audience of 500 in its maximum capacity, and it is possible to divide the space in different ways to allow for multiple simultaneous activities when needed. The building provides workspace for up to 143 employees, and several meeting spaces of various sizes to serve the needs of the people of the neighborhood. There is also a café, a children’s corner, and a shop area. The yard of the church provides additional gathering space in the summer months.

Villa Koivikko, Writer’s Studio, image by Angel Gil

During this past year, we have had the pleasure to be involved in several very different projects dealing with the theme of creating something new by bringing old and new layers of architecture together. The delicate work of restoring the landmarked modern masterpiece of Villa Koivikko by Aarne Ervi and complementing it with a set of new buildings got its final touches in the summer and the villa has served well as a place of retreat and productive work during this past year of social distancing and remote work.

Located on a naturally beautiful site on a sloping hill by the Lake Pitkäjärvi about a half an hour ride from downtown Helsinki, Villa Koivikko provides an excellent set up for combining remote work and the ideal conditions for life surrounded by nature, a need that has been highlighted in an unexpected manner in the past year due to the ways in which the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted our lives and ways of working. True to its original intended nature as a place of relaxation, the renovated complex now offers a place of retreat and contemplation with a sense of enjoyment of life.

Villa Koivikko, Sauna, image by Angel Gil

In the spring 2020 we were given the opportunity to embark work on a landmarked building of a very different kind, an extraordinary wooden mansion dating from 1900, Rauhalinna in the Savonlinna area. With its rich ornamentation and intricate detailing, it is a unique example of Russian style wooden manor houses in Finland. With a rare combination of Arabic influenced pillars and Swiss inspired decorative wood carved details set in a beautiful landscape, the manor is landmarked for historic preservation as a culturally and architecturally valuable milieu.

In order to bring new life to the Rauhalinna Manor as the active place of meetings and social life that it once used to be, the old mansion will be carefully restored and a new guest house will be built to accommodate the needs of visitors, and all together three new sauna buildings will be created. The aim is to improve the functionality of the manor in a way that recognizes and respects the unique qualities of the culturally remarkable milieu as a whole. Introducing a contemporary layer of architecture with a strong sculptural character of its own, an interesting dialogue between the richly ornamented old mansion and the new buildings is created. The intention is to allow the old and the new to engage in a conversation with each other as equal partners each with their own voice.

Rauhalinna, renovation of the wooden mansion from 1900 to be complemented with a new guesthouse made from CLT.

The work on Rauhalinna is expected to be completed in the summer 2021.

The Villa Ciutadella in Menorca, Spain is just in the final stages of completion and will be ready to receive its new residents in this new year. It is located within the very dense structure in the heart of Ciutadella, a historical city of with roots dating back to the time of the Carthaginians. It is a city rich in culturally and historically valuable sites on the island of Menorca. The Villa Ciutadella is built in a way that makes use of an existing structure of a building that had fallen into ill repair. By repairing parts of the existing structure and adding a new layer of architecture to it, the project transforms the old building into a modern villa that meets the contemporary standards of living.

Villa Ciutadella under construction, images by Marc Goodwin

During 2020 we have also had the pleasure to work on two exciting research projects that were both completed at the end of the year and will be presented and shared with the public in this new year: JOKOTAI Material Impact Screener and Timber Toolbox.Through these projects with a focus on research and development we have had a welcome chance to explore the various aspects of sustainability more deeply. The JOKOTAI Material Impact Screener is a web-based tool for assessing the environmental impact of our material choices in a building project at an early stage of the design process.

The Timber Toolbox, in turn, provides a library of tools for building with wood and highlights the various qualities of wood based on the local cultural heritage of building with wood, the material properties of wood, the development of contemporary timber systems, and the manifold potential for using wood in architectural design. 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.

JOKOTAI Material Impact Screener will be launched to the public in the coming spring.

During the past year there were some significant changes in the office as both the Helsinki and the Seinäjoki office got new team leaders, Iida Hedberg and Timo Etula. Right at the outset,they were presented with the unexpected challenge of figuring out how to best facilitate the teamwork of a team working remotely. The entire OOPEAA team deserves big thanks for their hard work during the unusual times and for the way in which they adjusted to the new situation with remarkable flexibility and an open minded attitude. Additional change was brought on during  the spring when Kazunori Yamaguchi embarked to start on his own in Japan after seven years at OOPEAA. Anssi Lassila, the founder and director of OOPEAA, in turn, expanded his scope of work and influence through his new role as Professor of Practice in Contemporary Architecture at the University of Oulu.

We wish to express our heartfelt thanks to all our collaborators both in Finland and abroadfor the opportunity to work together during the exceptional year of 2020 and for the many inspiring exchanges of thoughtsand ideas that have informed our work during the year. We are looking forward to seeing the results of the workin the form of completed projects in this new year 2021 and to continued collaboration with all of you!