The Riihi house is home to a family consisting of an entrepreneur father, an artist mother and their two sons. The house is located in a sliver of forest on a gentle slope with view down to the fields in the valley below. This group of buildings in Alajärvi continues the tradition of local vernacular architecture, using new ways and means.
The form of the buildings and the materials were designed to blend in with the surroundings. One important aim was to design an ecological, healthy building that can be recycled at the end of its life cycle. Wood was used for the structure, interior and exterior cladding, insulation and weather-proof barrier. All metal surfaces are in plain, untreated aluminium.
The buildings are located around an almost entirely closed courtyard in the tradition of the Finnish farmhouse. This layout shelters the yard from northerly winds and forms a pleasant microclimate. The entrances are all on the courtyard side and views out to the landscape are restricted to the corners of the yard. The trees planted in the courtyard will provide shelter from the sun in summertime.
The three buildings sited around the internal courtyard house the dwelling, atelier, the garage and spaces for hobbies and other pursuits. The domestic hot water and the buildings themselves are heated by four fireplaces equipped with heat storage facilities. The electricity for the lighting is supplied from batteries charged by solar panels on the roof. The building is designed to be low-energy and, if necessary, it can be cut off from sewerage, and water and electricity mains.
The L-shaped main building is sheltered by a hipped roof. External walls clad in wide spruce boarding follow the line of the interior spaces, while louvered screens fixed to the eaves line define the external form. Entrances and terraces are located between two different elevations. The timber cladding is untreated and will gradually turn grey. Interior finishes in the garage and hobby rooms are simple and practical. The wood finishes in the lofty studio, including the floor, are painted white.
The interior of the dwelling is warm and cosy. Wall and ceiling finishes are radial-sawn spruce treated with soap. The idea is to create a light-coloured wooden finish that can breathe. The floor in the living room and kitchen is concrete, and in the bedrooms, ash. The spacious living room is arranged round a rendered fireplace with a mezzanine above, from which there are views over the fields. Bedrooms and auxiliary spaces are on the outside edges of the plan. The corridors on the courtyard side can be used for work and play.
Project in brief
- Location | Alajärvi
- Purpose | Residential building
- Constructor/Client | Private
- Architectural Design | OOPEAA
- Structural design | Risto Linnakangas DI, Oulu
- Contractor | Arto Luoma-aho
- Year completed | 2014
- Photographs | Jussi Tiainen
- Text | Anssi Lassila