Exhibition at the Museum of Finnish Architecture, small exhibition hall, 15.6.2016–2.10.2016
The exhibition casts a look back at the early years of Le Carré Bleu, an architectural periodical founded in Helsinki during the height of an upheaval in modern architecture. Focusing on theory, the publication established itself as a forum where like-minded friends and colleagues across different cultures exchanged ideas about architecture. The periodical thus not only paved the way for the rise of a new generation of architects but also for the birth of a new interdisciplinary approach to architectural discourse. Le Carré Bleu played an important role both in Finnish architecture and world cultural history.
Le Carré Bleu was founded by Professor Aulis Blomstedt, a lecturer at the Helsinki University of Technology, together with three theoretically minded young Finnish architects, Keijo Petäjä (1919–1988), Reima Pietilä (1923–1993) and Eero Eerikäinen, the French architect Andre Schimmerling (1912–2009) and the first Director of the Museum of Finnish Architecture, Kyösti Ålander (1917–1975). Its title, ‘the blue square’, refers to Mondrian’s abstract paintings and the formative impact of modern art on the vocabulary of architecture.
For its founders the periodical was principally a forum for exchange, offering a platform for the free expression of various ideas on the aesthetic and social dimensions of architecture. Dealing primarily with issues of form, the periodical voiced a critique of functionalism, the predominant architectural movement of the day. The contributors also denounced the lapse of standards of quality in the construction industry.
The exhibition is divided into three sections. The first section presents Le Carré Bleu’s special theme issues, providing a visual chronicle of the magazine’s history. The magazine’s inception is examined against the background of coinciding topical events, such as Finnish architects’ participation in the CIAM International Congresses of Modern Architecture and the CIAM-PTAH group founded by Aulis Blomstedt. The first section also introduces the steadily growing family of writers and contributors who joined the magazine’s international network.
The second section is devoted to charting the content of the magazine, focusing on the writings and core themes addressed by its three leading contributors. Highlights include Aulis Blomstedt’s meditations on form and space, culminating in his Canon 60 module system, Keijo Petäjä’s writings on spatial perception and Reima Pietilä’s organic and morphological contemplations on architecture.
The third section focuses on the magazine’s visual identity. Le Carré Bleu was originally published four times a year in 21 cm x 21 cm accordion format, with occasional blue accents enlivening the black and white print. The featured covers were designed by Blomstedt, Petäjä and Pietilä, who took turns editing the early issues, ensuring that each was unique in both content and layout. This third section presents a selection of original copies of the periodical, photographs, hand-written notes and typed manuscripts.
The exhibition was curated by Professor Eeva-Liisa Pelkonen from the Yale School of Architecture in collaboration with Petteri Kummala, a researcher at the Museum of Finnish Architecture. The exhibition design is by architect Philip Tidwell.
For further information and press images
Ilona Hildén
Museum of Finnish Architecture
+358 (0)45 7731 0468
Visiting address
Museum of Finnish Architecture
Kasarmikatu 24
00130 Helsinki
Opening hours
tue–sun 11.00 am–6.00 pm
wed 11.00 am–8.00 pm
Adults €8, students, pensioners and the unemployed €4
Children under 18 and war veterans free
Combi-ticket with the Design Museum €12
Free admission with a Museum Pass

Le Carré Bleu 1/1958. Graphic Design: Reima Pietilä
Le Carré Bleu 4/1959. Cover: Aulis Blomstedt