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Young Finnish architects Ella Kaira and Matti Jänkälä to curate the Pavilion of Finland at the 2025 Biennale Architettura

A woman and a man in stairs, leaning against the handrail.

Miina Jutila

The curatorial concept, selected through an open call, explores the care and maintenance of modern architecture from a new perspective. The curatorial duo behind the concept will start working with Archinfo towards the May 2025 opening of the 19th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia.

Ella Kaira and Matti Jänkälä's exhibition idea was selected from five shortlisted entries in an open call for curators, which produced a total of 45 proposals. Kaira and Jänkälä's exhibition concept will be realised in the Pavilion of Finland at next year's architecture biennial in Venice. With the exhibition, the curators aim to redefine our relationship with the built environment by highlighting the tacit knowledge related to the maintenance and care of a building.

"The theme of the chosen exhibition concept, the preservation of modern architecture, is most topical. Since the Biennale is a significant platform for international discourse, we were looking for an exhibition idea that is relevant to the Finnish architectural field but also resonates internationally. The chosen exhibition idea has the potential to open up new perspectives here at home, too," says Katarina Siltavuori, Director of Archinfo and Commissioner of the exhibition.

Vokal, an architecture practice founded last year by Kaira and Jänkälä, specialises in community-based design. Jänkälä and Kaira are particularly interested in modern architectural heritage and its preservation. The Aalto University alumni are members of the You Tell Me collective of architecture students and young architects, which aims to promote a paradigm change in the field of construction and share information and solutions to create a more sustainable built environment.

"Our joint practice, Vokal, examines the forces that drive urban development, ranging from the real estate market to social movements, by employing methods of storytelling, art, and research. I am particularly interested in the role of local knowledge in preserving modern built heritage," says Ella Kaira.

Ella and Matti in New York
In autumn 2023, Ella Kaira and Matti Jänkälä were artists in residence at the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York. photo: Vokal

Internationality comes naturally to the young architects, as both have also studied abroad, Jänkälä at ETH Zurich and Kaira at École Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture de Paris-Belleville. At the end of last year, they were artists in residence at the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York. The Biennale platform in Venice is not alien to them either, but working on such a large-scale exhibition production is a new challenge.

"This is a big step for us, and we are delighted to have been chosen as curators. However, an exhibition – like architecture – is not done alone, and we look forward to working together with professionals from different disciplines and the Archinfo team. Ella and I are particularly interested in these issues of collective authorship," says Matti Jänkälä.

All five shortlisted concepts dealt with topical issues

The call for curators, open from December 2023 to February 2024, attracted 45 proposals worldwide. The selection panel shortlisted five exhibition concepts for further consideration, and the authors were invited to present their ideas to the panel. The panel included architect Pia Ilonen, Professor Sofie Pelsmakers and Aura Seikkula, Doctor of Philosophy and Curator. The panel was chaired by Katarina Siltavuori.

The selection panel appraised the themes raised by all shortlisted concepts to be significant.

"Many proposals were inspirational in how they challenged the status quo of how we tend to see architecture and the architect’s role in a time of climate and biodiversity crisis. The winning curator proposal uniquely makes visible and intends to communicate issues of climate and social justice in the making and caring of our built environment," says Sofie Pelsmakers who Chairs the Sustainable Housing Design research group at Tampere University.

Different aspects of the value and preservation of modern architecture were also addressed in two other shortlisted proposals, those of Tuomas Siitonen and Liisa Ryynänen. The curatorial concept proposed by the duo Irina Garnets and Saimi Järvinen focused on the spatial dimensions of peace, while the proposal by the team Olli-Paavo Koponen, Sirkka Köykkä, Mimmi Koponen, Anniina Kortemaa, Lotta Pakarinen and Karoliina Mäenpää dealt with building according to biological cycles.

Venetsia suomen paviljonki
The Alvar Aalto-designed Pavilion of Finland is located in the Giardini in Venice. photo: Miina Jutila

La Biennale di Venezia has appointed the Italian architect, urban planner, engineer and researcher Carlo Ratti as Curator of the 19th International Architecture Exhibition. The overarching theme of the Biennale is expected to be announced in the summer of 2024. The Biennale Architettura will open to the public on 24 May 2025 and remain open until 23 November.

Archinfo, the Information Centre for Finnish Architecture, has been appointed by Finland’s Ministry of Education and Culture as Commissioner for the Finnish Pavilion’s exhibitions at the Biennale Architettura. The Ministry is the main sponsor of the exhibition.

Read more about Vokal