No. 283 . 19 April 2006 
ArchitectureWeek
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House for Midnight Sun

by Lisa Ashmore

In the river delta of Oulu, Finland, the natural environment is likely the toughest factor an architect has to consider. In the upper reaches of cold country, the price one pays for summer's midnight sun is long, cold winters — which usually make large glass surfaces impractical and fortress-thick walls a sound investment.

So it takes so creativity to design a generously glazed, less-than-traditional house. But in this lively university town, flush with tech industry affluence, homeowners "have the will and the money to build lavish family houses," says architect Matti Haikola, founder of the local firm Avario. "And some have excellent architectural taste."

Typically, Finnish houses are prefabricated with wood structure and facades, topped by saddle roofs. In this house for a family of four, all of those elements are absent.

Haikola made some concessions to weather, including double-brick insulated walls and multipane, argon-gassed windows. But he's proud of the sleek look and "random rhythm" of the front facade. Through the front pillars' white plaster, the shape and placement of the bricks is visible, but the effect is of a single column. On one front corner, a terrace invites people outside.   >>>

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