New Standards exhibition will open 20 May in Venice Architecture Biennale

Finland’s exhibition presents collaboration between the timber industry and architects to alleviate the housing shortage during the World War II and reconstruction.
New Stadards -näyttely Suomen Paviljongissa Venetsian arkkitehtuuribiennaalissa 2021, kuva Tanskan Aarhusista
Photo: Juuso Westerlund / Archinfo Finland

Exhibition ‘New Standards’ at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia is curated by Laura Berger, Philip Tidwell and Kristo Vesikansa, who have all been working as teachers and researchers at Aalto University during the project.

New Standards tells the story of the industrial enterprise Puutalo Oy [Timber Houses Ltd.], which was established in 1940 as part of the national response to a refugee crisis brought about by war. In less than a decade, the company became one of the largest manufacturers of prefabricated wooden buildings in the world. These structures used a limited range of standard components to achieve thousands of variations, suited to different functional, climatic and cultural conditions.

‘The exhibition demonstrates how a crisis, as a war, can be a catalyst for innovation and bring different actors together,’ says Laura Berger. ‘These homes with ingenious spatial distribution, practical domestic innovations and simple structural principles were designed to raise living standards and built to last.’

The historical story is complimented by contemporary images by acclaimed photographer Juuso Westerlund, which capture views of life in neighborhoods from Helsinki (Finland), Aarhus (Denmark) and Barranquilla (Colombia).

The exhibition can be visited in Giardini, Venice from 20 May to 21 November, and virtually at

The exhibition opening will be held online 20 May at 16:30 CET. The event is open to all and will be in English. There will be a discussion with the United States Pavilion and the Nordic Pavilion about the different conditions of standardisation and customisation that arise through the use of timber as a structural material. The discussion will be led by curators and exhibitors from the three pavilions and chaired by the Director of Open House worldwide, Phineas Harper.

More information:

Archinfo Finland's website

Biennale Architettura 2021

Finland’s exhibition in the Biennale Architettura 2020 honors the Finnish prefabricated wooden houses of the WWII era

The exhibition will be conceived and curated by three researchers and teachers at Aalto University.

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arkkitehdit Philip Tidwell, Kristo Vesikansa ja Laura Berger seisovat katsoen kameraan

Laura Katariina Berger

Academy Postdoctoral Researcher
Department of Architecture
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