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Finnish TV’s Big Brother house facilities are designed for residents, as well as viewers

Aalto University's master's students in interior design created the BB house design.
kaksi naista istuu vaalealla karvataljalla violeteista putkista koostuvan taustan edustalla ja katsoo kameraan
Emmi Koskinen and Noora Katajalaakso, the lead architects of Big Brother Finland house, photo: Jukka Alasaari

The new season of Big Brother Finland reality TV show, which glues viewers to the screen, began 6 September. The look of the house and facilities was planned by Emmi Koskinen and Noora Katajalaakso as well as other Exhibition Design course students in the Master's program in Interior Architecture.

Cooperation with Endemol Shine Finland, the production company of the Big Brother Finland, started last spring. ‘The design of the BB house provided an excellent study project for our course and our schedules matched well,’ says Professor of spatial design Pentti Kareoja, the course teacher.

The BB house, located in the Redi shopping center in Helsinki’s Kalasatama district, has many special features that required creativity from the designers. Because the space was originally designed for civil protection, it is completely devoid of windows and natural light.

‘So the task was to design a kind of artificial reality where all the features of the space can be manipulated by design. Actually, it was about designing a kind of spatial installation,’ explains Kareoja.

Internationality is reflected in the design

During last spring, six groups of Aalto University students made comprehensive plans for the use of space in the BB house: they devised and sketched the concepts, themes and space solutions, and made floor plans and 3D models. The teams presented their plans to the production company on several occasions.

The group of students was exceptionally international: in total, there were more than ten nationalities from all continents. The richness of the cultural background was reflected in the diversity of the plans.

‘The students were 100% motivated for the task and gave their all. The awareness of the concept both domestically and internationally contributed to the motivation to work,’ says Kareoja, who supervised the students' work.

Although the course education shifted to distance learning due to the corona pandemic, it did not greatly affect the schedules or contents of the task

Usually, when designing shared housing, the key emphasis is on people’s privacy. However, in this project, it was the opposite."

Emmi Koskinen and Noora Katajalaakso

Ideas have been combined

This year, there was no single theme chosen for the BB house, but different ideas have been combined as a whole. Yet, the production company wanted to implement most of the proposal made by Emmi Koskinen and Noora Katajalaakso, second-year master’s students in interior architecture and furniture design.

‘Our original theme and source of inspiration was a retrofuturist genre called Synthwave, which is inspired by 80s music and aesthetics, and it also strongly includes science fiction and game world,’ the young designers explain.

Koskinen and Katajalaakso were given the lead responsibility for further planning, and they worked for the production company throughout the summer to implement the project. Their responsibilities included the design of the house, site guidance and supervision, as well as communication with various professionals.

Their work included site meetings as well as numerous site visits and problem-solving situations. In the project phase, they deepened the plans with surface material, lighting, and furniture choices, spray-painted the entrance walls, designed the fixed furniture, and finally styled the finished spaces.

The format allowed being wild

The students’ assignment did not have particularly fixed starting points but instead allowed a maximum use of imagination. The production company provided the designers with good instructions on the locations of the cameras and what will be shown for the viewers.

‘In this project, we were allowed to design something wild. At the same time, however, we wanted the personalities of the residents to stand out,’ the main designers Koskinen and Katajalaakso reveal.

Usually, spaces are designed for the users, but in this project they were also designed for viewers.

‘Usually, when designing shared housing, the key emphasis is on people’s privacy. However, in this project, it was the opposite. So we had to think about how the spaces look like through cameras and how they work together with technology,’ Koskinen and Katajalaakso explain.

They wanted to create spaces that bring the BB residents together; where it would be easy to spend time together and which would strengthen but also challenge the team spirit.

‘This has been the first big project for both of us and it was absolutely great to get to work with so many different professionals. We are proud of our team work and spirit in the midst of a hectic and complex production, having the responsibility of the lead architects.’

The 12th season of Big Brother Finland started on September 6 and can be seen on Nelonen, Jim and Ruutu. See how the house looks like!

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