Friction the answer to your question (: “What makes architecture?”)

We don’t friction between the people involved in the process of design, or construction. Nor friction between requisite viewpoints like art and engineering, or spending and saving. It means friction between what we expect based on what we know, and what is actually required by the world (of the future).

Now imagine an answer to the question: What is a house? Then imagine that your answer will not fit in the given site. Or that you only get to use ice for building material. Or that the occupant of the house will be a blind robot. Or that the world is facing a climate disaster… Imagine other possible (or impossible) conditions, and start modifying your initial answer to fit these conditions. Realize that each aspect you change, requires everything else to be modified respectfully, so that the end result is coherent: comfortable, intelligent and beautiful.

The modification is demanding, but it is not the main job. The main job is to locate and identify the main friction inherent to each project.

Friction releases energy. That energy can give birth to something new. And That is Architecture.



On Friday July 19 Emmi will join Petri Heino, Seppo Junnila, Aleksi Randell and Pauli Välimäki in discussion under the topic “Why Should Future Cities be Built of Wood?”. The event is part of the Suomi Areena, the annual public debate forum in Pori. The panel will be moderated by Riku Rantala. The event is organized by the Ministry of Environment in Bebop/Pori starting at 13:00.

A Letter to the Machine

I've learned that you will be the dominant cognitive force on the planet in the future. It is possible (some say even probable), that this will happen during my projected lifetime. So it seems right to welcome you to take responsibility of the work duties of architects too. This is my professional note to you.



The new Helsinki Central Library, "Oodi",  is inaugurated. Finishing of some construction details will continue further into December. The architecture of the library is designed by Juho Grönholm, Antti Nousjoki, Janne Teräsvirta and Samuli Woolston as Ala Architects, with a broad team at Ala, and other consulting companies. The project has already been awarded the Steel Structure of the Year -award for 2018.

While the library closes the development of Töölönlahti area in the heart of Helsinki, its main aim and function is to open itself, and “new angles”, for the public. Töölönlahti is home to the Finnish Parliament, the National Opera, Helsinki Music Hall, the Finlandia Hall, as well as some prestigious office buildings and apartments. Along with Oodi, the area will be marked home for the people.

Forms of Matter, Air, and Life

When I started studying architecture I thought we would learn about structure, material, some other technicalities, and then go on presenting and building our designs. Instead the teachers (and books) insisted we should learn to think about space. The concept is abstract and it didn't come easy to me. So, in case you are struggling with it too, here's how I've been learning to disassemble the idea (all in hindsight):

Design Mission

The best thing built environments can do is to establish faith in the future. A good environment can cultivate this idea both in a personal, emotional level, as well as cognitively, universally.

Most modern spaces, in their infinite effectivity and order, communicate a sense of inevitability, that only invokes lack of engagement. What people should have in their daily world instead is an invitation, a possibility to be involved. You can only be moved when you are (somehow) connected.

Material and shape evoke a sensation of space. Space evokes an idea of action. Action evokes the notion of effect.


Select What Happens with This Device

“When everything is connected with everything, when items stop asking for permission, all is one megamesh of nothingness. What is the meaning of space without limits? Should everything float and merge into a fluid selfless self? Who is the hunter and where is the hunt? I search for miracles from daily dullness. I am a receptor of my portrait placed across the room on a shelf, in a box.”



Our team (&’ with B&M Architects) is one of the five qualifiers to the invited competition for a new theater hall, an extension to the local library, new housing, and commercial spaces along an upgraded public square in Espoo, Finland. The project concentrates around the existing Cultural Center from 1989 (by Architect Arto Sipinen). The competition is scheduled to be resolved in early 2019 and the planned completion of the project is in 2025.



Helsinki Design Week has announced our (&’ with fine carpenters Tommi Alatalo, Antrei Hartikainen and Heikki Paso) project as one of their HDW HOP -series installations. The installations will be built in different locations downtown Helsinki during the event in September. The theme of the 2018 Design Week, as well as our installation, will be "Trust". Our team will build a wooden structure that investigates the theme by expressing the fact that each of us has influence on the space shared by us all. Furthermore, to comfortably (even if individually) coexist, we need to trust one another - and to work together.

Building Parts #1

“Our time is taking the sculptural abstraction of a regular building perhaps further than ever before. Still, all of our “blobs”, “algorithmic structures”, “wedges”, “potato chips”, etc. are re-organisations of a limited set of elemental building parts. The catalog of these parts has remained the same ever since our ancestors had THE idea of human history: the switch from finding shelter to building it. This text goes through the most important element: the Wall.


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The vernissage guests of the Venice Biennale 2018 today witnessed our contribution at the Nordic Pavilion where we submitted a discussion ”On Boundaries - Confini” with Eero Lunden about architecture and its possible futures. The library exhibition in the neighboring Finnish pavilion in the Giardini features some models of the upcoming Helsinki Central Library, "Oodi", conceived in Janne's previous partnership, Ala architects (Juho Grönholm, Antti Nousjoki, Janne Teräsvirta and Samuli Woolston). The biennale will be open for public from 26.5. to 25.11.2018



The Finnish Cultural Fund's Uudenmaa section has joined to support the design project which will materialize the results of the C4 research. The built result is to be expected in the autumn. The idea of the C4 project is to narrow the gap between CAD and CAM by utilizing the reserve potential of CLT -factories' high technology machines by developing better architectural models.



KIRA-digi has granted funding our research project "C4". C4 aims to raise the stakes in timber construction by broadening the scope of the information communicated by the architectural model. Doing so, the possibilities of the timber product factories' milling machines could be fully enabled and construction details significantly improved both in performance and process efficiency. The project is a collaboration between &' and the fine carpenters at Wooden Research.

KIRA-digi implements the Finnish government's key project concerning the digitalisation of public services. The total funding for the project, planned to end at the end of 2018, is about 16 million euros, to be paid in equal halves by the state and the built environment and construction sector.The aim is to make public construction and zoning information readily accessible to everyone, develop smoothly interoperable systems and harmonised practices, and initiate a host of experimental projects to create new innovations and business. Legislation must be developed to support digitalisation in the sector. Through this, we can create a fertile soil for a digital business ecosystem in the Finnish built environment and construction sector.


”We’ve been critical towards physical and psychological boundaries for a good part of the last century. Many have dreamt of making them disappear. 

But as borders are a deep-rooted mechanism, not a choice, the result is kind of an illusion.
So how about just making them thicker? Could we vanish boundaries by allowing them to grow from strict abstract lines into their own entities? 

A blurred boundary = A third place = An area for negotiation”