Sakari Laitinen @ Museum of Finnish Architecture

Sakari Laitinen @ Museum of Finnish Architecture


Exhibition opening at the Museum of Finish Architecture,
small exhibition hall, March 1–May 28, 2017

The Museum of Finnish Architecture is proud to present a celebration of colour and form with this exhibition of art by the Finnish architect Sakari Laitinen. Gifted at drawing, Laitinen practiced art in parallel with architecture from his student years onwards. After retiring from architecture in 1997, he devoted himself wholly to art. His architectural background is mirrored in the special spatial character of his art, which has a distinctly ‘architecturesque’ quality.



Sakari Laitinen (1937-2015) ranks among the generation of Finnish architects who began their studies in the late 1950s and who had a major impact on the evolution of Finnish architecture. From his undergraduate years onwards he worked with famous architects such as Alvar Aalto, and he designed a number of buildings both solo and as a team effort, including the master plan for Helsinki’s city centre and the regional plan for southwest Espoo and Kivenlahti.

As head of his own architectural practice, he created a relaxed, open atmosphere and was a supportive and motivational team leader for his assistants, always expecting as much from himself as he did from them. He spared no effort and always found time to commit himself wholeheartedly to every project he undertook. His architectural style can be described as 1960s constructivism, but numerous parallel aspirations were always evident in his designs.

Numerous parallel aspirations also characterize his artistic oeuvre. Already as a student, he proved himself highly gifted at drawing, illustrating and graphic design. In parallel to his studies and architectural work, he was a prolific creator of sketches and graphics. The gradual digitalization of architectural design prompted Laitinen to close his practice and devote himself wholly to art from 1997 onwards.

Laitinen’s colourful spatial constructs will be on show in Line, Space and Colour: Constructions by Sakari Laitinen, a new exhibition opening at the Museum of Finnish Architecture, which presents a cavalcade of inventive creations by this multitalented architect and artist. As his colourful oeuvre shows when presented collectively, Laitinen never aspired to create a stylistically or thematically unified body of work: what inspired him above all was experimentation and the constant search for the new.

His choice of materials also reflects his experimental, collage-like approach, his favourite materials being cardboard and wood glue. His fondness for cardboard cut-outs endows his work with the geometrical, ‘constructed’ quality of a scale model.

Laitinen’s art has a distinctly architectural feel to it: many of his constructions resemble miniature edifices or facades – indeed they are easy to imagine blown up to the scale of real buildings. His career and training as an architect left an indelible mark on his style of expression.

On the other hand, exuberant use of colour is a distinctive feature of his artistic work, marking a clear distinction from conventional architectural scale models. While architectural plans are usually black and white, Laitinen’s constructions are a riot of colour with a wonderfully refined sensibility. His eye-popping, spatially stylized constructions mirror his architectural background, yet they also lead our thoughts in quite the opposite
direction of architecture.

Laitinen held solo showings of his art in Finland and Germany. The title of his exhibitions in Berlin, Munich and Wolfsburg was Preoccupation, which aptly expresses Laitinen’s curiously serious and seriously curious approach to his art.

The exhibition was curated by Juhani Pallasmaa, Sara Nuortie and Mikael Merenmies.


The Museum of Finnish Architecture and Building Information Ltd publish an art book regarding the exhibition and presenting Laitinen’s artwork. The book Line, Space and Colour. Sakari Laitinen: Constructions includes an article by Juhani Pallasmaa.


Line, Space and Colour. Constructions by Sakari Laitinen will be accompanied by a series of workshops in which participants are invited to play with colours and materials in the spirit of Laitinen’s constructions. These family workshops will be held on the last Saturday of every month. The programme will also include discussion panels reflecting on the fundamental nature of Laitinen’s art.