My Paradise: A Hundred Years of Finnish Architects’ Summer Homes Exhibit at AIA San Francisco gallery

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By Miyoko Ohtake / Published by Dwell
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Summer houses have always held a special place in Finnish culture—and in the careers of its architects, who have used them not only for catching up on rest and relaxation, but as experimental spaces for testing new ideas and concepts.

The exhibit My Paradise: A Hundred Years of Finnish Architects’ Summer Homes—on display at the American Institute of Architects’ San Francisco chapter gallery through January 9, 2009—highlights 20 summer homes from the last century of Finnish history, from Reima Pietila’s Mayramaki Sauna—a "place of contemplation and writing"—to Juhani Pallasmaa’s Summer Cottage—a "place for simply being, or socializing, eating, and working."

What sets this exhibit apart from one simply composed of beautiful photographs of beautiful homes is that the exhibit also focuses on the public works inspired by these private dwellings. It was the plywood walls and steel support of Mikko Pulkkinen’s Summer Cabin (completed in 1967) that informed his design of the Turku Arts Acadamy 26 years later, and it was Bertel Saarnio’s unforced, unassuming Summer Cabin (completed in 1955) design that acted as a starting point for the Kouvola Town Hall he designed in 1968 with Juha Leiviska.

Summer Cabin (1967) by Mikko Pulkkinen

My Paradise was curated and designed by photographer Jari Jetsonsen and his wife, architect Sirkkaliisa Jetsonsen, and modeled on their book Finnish Summer Homes, recently published by the Princeton Architectural Press. The exhibit can be viewed at the AIA San Francisco chapter gallery Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., now through January 9, 2009, with the exception of December 24-January 4. Admission is free. For more information, visit