Press Release
September 27, 2016
Exhibition at the Museum of Finnish Architecture

Remember those wild colours? And all those stripped-down, black-and-white boxes?
The Museum of Finnish Architecture proudly presents an epoch of optimism with its exhibition of contemporary trends in Finnish architecture from the 1960s. The accompanying programme takes visitors outside the museum, presenting 1960s buildings in their authentic settings. All visitors are invited to join us in collecting material about 1960s architecture by taking part in our photography competition.
The sixties marked an era of great social and cultural upheaval. With Finland in the midst of rapid urbanization, new buildings sprang up like mushrooms all over the country. Mass production revolutionized modernist architecture. The new Welfare State found tangible expression in the nation’s administrative centres, cultural buildings, concrete churches, schools, universities and other public buildings. Suburban supermarkets proliferated with growth in automobile ownership and decentralized housing development.

A wholly new visual culture took shape. Plastic seemed unconquerable and colour photography became mainstream. The sixties have been described as the ‘decade of colour’, with exuberant hues becoming the new ideal in the visual arts, interior design and fashion.
In architecture, by contrast, the sixties were an era of black-and-white asceticism. Raw concrete was the preferred material. The new utopian ideal was streamlined, serialized minimalism, as expressively captured in the black-and-white architectural photographs of the day.

The sixties – a decade of clashes and radicalism – is an era that holds enduring fascination, albeit that many of its ideals seem foreign from today’s perspective. We feel justified in hating the ‘concrete boxes’ that wiped out so many beautiful old buildings in their path.

The ageing architecture of the sixties has reached the point of needing extensive repairs: it is itself becoming endangered. Its minimalistic style comes into its own in its carefully balanced proportions and eloquent detailing. Its hulking concrete accents convey a sense of brute force, yet it seems vulnerable at the same time. The exhibition provides an overview of the evolution of the sixties style, while also looking at potential for restoring its original elegant features.

The exhibition looks at the themes, visual idiosyncrasies and aesthetics of sixties architecture. It also invites audiences to contemplate social themes and provides an introduction to Finland’s key architects of the sixties. It takes its title from an article published in the Ylioppilaslehti student periodical by the Finnish writer Pentti Saarikoski, who wished all readers “a more colourful, more cheerful and more sophisticated” decade in the first issue of the year for 1960.

The exhibition architecture is inspired by the sixties lifestyle with its love of leisure time, comfy living rooms and ‘floor-lounging’ culture, creating a bridge between 2016 and this bygone decade that optimistically embraced dreams, hopes and faith in the future. Genre boundaries were challenged, the world opened up and everything seemed possible. The architecture of the ‘crazy sixties’ may leave opinion divided, but it rarely leaves anyone cold. The exhibition invites audiences to enjoy the relaxed, free-spirited vibe of the hippie era.

The exhibition was produced by the Museum of Finnish Architecture. It was curated by the museum’s Head of Research Juhana Lahti and researcher Eija Rauske. The exhibition was designed by Collaboratorio.
The exhibition programme takes visitors into buildings and city districts designed in the 1960s. The sites will vary based on changing monthly themes: The 60s town centre today, Concrete, Building a better future, Nature in the suburbs and The experimental 1960s. Walks will also be organized outside Helsinki in Seinäjoki, Kouvola, Jyväskylä and Oulu. Theme-based talks will be organized in authentic ‘60s buildings.
#60sBeauty Photography Contest
Reveal a glorious architectural detail from a ‘60s building
Many buildings from the ‘60s have changed beyond recognition over the decades due to extensions and renovations. The Museum of Finnish Architecture is now looking for authentic details of 1960s architecture from all over Finland. Send us a detail of a 1960s building via Twitter or Instagram, hashtag #60sBeauty. The best photo wins a hotel stay for two in a ‘60s setting. The winner will be announced on 18.2.2017.

For further information and press images
Ilona Hilden, Communications
tel. 04577310468
Visiting address
Museum of Finnish Architecture, Kasarmikatu 24, 00130 Helsinki
tue-sun 11 am–6 pm
wed 11am–8 pm
Closed Mondays
Adults €10, students, pensioners, the unemployed €5
Free admission for children under 18 and war veterans
Combi-ticket for the Museum of Finnish Architecture and Design Museum €12
Free admission with a Museum Pass
Special events €10 / €5, also for Museum Pass holders