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Perspektivet Museum
Storgata 95, Tromsø, Norway

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Perspektivet Museum

New Standards: Puutalo Oy 1940–1955 in Tromsø

Old wooden house that has been altered with modern additions including a skylight and a glazed veranda.

Juuso Westerlund

After Venice and several cities in Finland, the exhibition telling the unique story of Puutalo Oy (Timber Houses Ltd.) will next be on show in Tromsø in northern Norway.

First featured in the Pavilion of Finland at the Biennale Architettura 2021 in Venice, New Standards presents the history and legacy of Puutalo Oy (Timber Houses Ltd.), a Finnish industrial enterprise that was established in 1940 to house war refugees and expanded quickly into a worldwide exporter of prefabricated wooden houses.

During the second world war, Finland faced a daunting refugee crisis when more than 11% of its citizens were forced to flee their homes along the eastern border. In 1940, the urgent need to resettle 420,000 people brought architects and industrialists together to form the pioneering industrial partnership.

The Puutalo consortium was established by 21 Finnish timber companies in order to coordinate the design and production of wooden houses, but it also created a model of manufacturing and construction that helped to modernise Finland’s building industry.

From 1940 to 1955, Puutalo shipped buildings to more than 30 countries around the world, quickly becoming one of Finland’s most widespread architectural exports. The flexibility of the building systems used allowed for significant variations in design, and different models were tailored to a wide range of climates, functions and cultural conditions.

New Standards includes archival material such as drawings, photographs and advertisements that illustrate the ambitions of the post-war period. The exhibition includes contemporary photographs of Puutalo houses in Finland, Denmark and Colombia, commissioned from acclaimed photographer Juuso Westerlund to show how these houses are inhabited today, and how they have been personalised over decades of use.

The exhibition is curated by Laura Berger, Philip Tidwell and Kristo Vesikansa and originally commissioned and produced by Archinfo. The edition at Perspektivet Museum is produced in collaboration with the museum.

Read more about the exhibition here.

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