A question has been on my mind recently about where to find good architecture. Does it appear only in the studio’s of world-renowned architects in charge of overseeing large and grand projects, or can it also exist in smaller endeavors, sketches, ideas, that will never be built? At what point do we look at a piece of work and consider it architecture, and by that standard, at what point do we look at an individual and call them an architect?

Courtesy of Arto Ollila

“Fokka” a concept by Finnish architecture student Arto Ollila, goes to show that good design can be found anywhere and be produced by anyone. The task for the student competition, in which “Fokka” was the winning concept, was to design a new landmark building in the Koivusaari area using new and innovative steel structures. The original idea behind this concept was to bring the multiple functions of several different towers in the area into one structure to represent a new dense city block as well as create a new kind of public space.

Courtesy of Arto Ollila

This idea was achieved by designing the lower floors with open plans to allow for multi-purpose spaces, while also integrating apartments, a hotel, retail, and a cultural podium. With this proposal, the location and conditions played a part in the decision making as the tensile steel and glass structure extends the buildings usage in the harsh and cold finnish environment, minimizing the exterior envelope surface and directing sun light.”]

Courtesy of Arto Ollila

When announcing the winner of this competition, the jury members commented that the concept behind “Fokka” was professional, sovereign, and innovative, combining logical research of the surrounding city with carefully examined functions. Although “Fokka” is a basic concept designed by a student, it is evident that architectural questions are still being asked. This goes to show that as long as the drive and determination to understand architecture is being applied, a high quality, elegant, and insightful concept won’t be far behind, whether it’s proposed by an established licensed architect or a student. It is sometimes the basic questions of design that lead to great architecture, and although we may be biased towards design in our opinions about it, design isn’t biased towards those who wish to pursue it.

Courtesy of Arto Ollila

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