In autumn 2009 the Finnish Cultural Foundation invited eight Nordic architectural bureaus each to design a beautiful, ecologically sustainable and reasonably priced house suitable for industrial production. The initiative sought to foster collaboration between architects and the small-house industry and to contribute to the global effort to reduce energy consumption.

The Foundation and its partner, Fiskars Real Estate (Finland’s oldest company, founded in 1649), were keen to produce house designs that would provide a building model outside a dense urban framework. Stringent requirements were placed on the type-house design. The houses were to be energy-efficient and last at least a hundred years. Instead of concentrating purely on the amount of energy used for heating, cuts in emissions are achieved through the choice of building materials and heating systems and by minimising the dependency on electrical devices. It is possible, though challenging, to meet the requirements of the new building regulations using natural ventilation and a wall construction with no moisture barrier.

It appeared from the first sketches that Swedish architects have far more experience of ecological architecture than their Finnish colleagues. Efficient collaboration between architects and the industry proved difficult to achieve. The compartmentalisation of design and planning into narrow fields of expertise is a characteristic feature of the Finnish small-house production chain: this easily leads to partial optimisation. The sector has a clear need to develop its practices and business models.

The Finnish Cultural Foundation has purchased all the rights to the architects’ designs and permits their free and gratuitous use for both private and commercial purposes. The designs can be viewed on the project website at (text in Finnish and Swedish only). The total cost of the project has so far been around €400 000.

Further information:
The Finnish Cultural Foundation, Fiskars Real Estate and the Smallhouse builder (pdf)
(Annual report 2011)