Location: Alajärvi, Finland
Architect: Anssi Lassila
Design date: 2010
Completion date: 2015
Built area: 479m2
Architects: Juha Pakkala, Iida Hedberg, Hanna-Kaarina Heikkilä, Tommi Heinonen
Project architect: Jussi-Pekka Vesala
Photographer: Jussi Tiainen
awards: Wood Prize 2014, shortlisted as nominated project, European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award 2015,Nominated project
Text provided by the architects:
Villa Riihi is located in Luoma-aho, Alajärvi, a small village in eastern Ostrobothnia in Finland, in a valley-like area next to a small island of forest on the side of a farm field. The project was commissioned by a family of an entrepreneur father, an artist mother and their two sons, who needed a house with spaces to live in accompanied with spaces for their hobbies and a studio to serve as an atelier.
Defined by its shape and materials, the house stands in harmonious dialogue with the surrounding landscape. The composition subtly recalls the feeling of a traditional Finnish farm, in which wooden cottages were arranged so as to form a protected inner courtyard with the buildings facing the courtyard. In this case, the three buildings, the house, the atelier, and the garage, give shape to an intimate garden, creating an optimal microclimate around the house by minimizing the impact of the northerly winds blowing in the valley.
Villa Riihi is a low energy building. The L-shaped house is made of wood in its exterior, interior, and load-bearing frame. The large pitched roofs are clad in aluminum which serves to reflect the landscape in an unexpected way. Compressed wood has been used for insulation and paper has been used for sealing. All metal parts in the building are made of untreated aluminum. Materials and technical solutions create a healthy and ecological building which can be recycled when it reaches the end of its life cycle. The entity can be heated with its four heat-retaining fireplaces which also provide hot water for the house. The lighting system in the house is supplied with batteries charged with solar power. It is possible to live in the house without being dependent on the power grid and water and drainage grids. All materials used are local. The wood is felled in the forest nearby and the aluminum is produced in a factory that provides the livelihood for the majority of the people in the village.
The interiors are arranged according to three different functions into areas with each their own atmosphere. The garage and hobby space is very simple and has a sense of anonymity to its interior surfaces. The atelier has very high ceilings and its wooden surfaces, even the floors, are painted white in order to create even light. The interiors in the house, furnished and clad in radially sawn spruce, provide a warm and cozy atmosphere. Its dwellers can enjoy the spacious living room and its central fireplace, climb on the mezzanine to contemplate the view over the fields, and use the large and furnished corridors as a play area or reading room overlooking the inner yard through their wide openings.