WISA Wooden Design Hotel by Pieta-Linda Auttila, Helsinki, Finland

Architecture & Interiors

The WISA Wooden Design hotel is an architectural gem of wood situated in the maritime heart of Helsinki. The work was designed by interior architect Pieta-Linda Auttila. She hopes to spark interest in wood and highlight its role in building and design. The purpose of the intensive design session was to inspire competitors to boldly look for experimental shapes. The objective of the competition was to produce an iconic creation that expresses strong vision and the flight of a free spirit. This sculptural landmark would be Helsinki’s equivalent of the Little Mermaid – a sight that attracts
architects, designers and the general public alike. Only Finnish wood
in its various forms could be used in the competition proposal.


100 designers entered the WISA Wooden Design Workshop competition. A
total of 75 entries were submitted. The jury, composed of professionals
of architecture, wood construction and design, considered the
competition very successful. Eight entries were selected for the short
list. The jury was unanimous in choosing interior architect Ms
Pieta-Linda Auttila’s entry as the winner of the competition. The jury
also presented two second prizes and three honourable mentions.


The WISA Wooden Design Hotel is an outstanding example of wood’s
versatility. Here, wood works both as a load-bearing structure and décor in walls, ceilings and floors. The first thing that catches the eye is the atrium courtyard in the
centre. The long curved pine boards half-covering the patio form a
trellis that titillates the imagination. The trellis protects against
the wind and filters the long rays of the Nordic sun into the
courtyard. The charming interplay of light and shade can be observed
throughout the day, as the bright morning light gradually turns into
the red glow of the Northern midnight sun.


The striking wood architecture makes its way to the living quarters.
The pine floor is complemented by the light ethereal beauty of Nordic
birch. The walls and the ceiling are panelled with beautiful and
durable birch plywood. Light comes in at both ends of the living
quarters through floor-to-ceiling windows that brighten the interior.
From the bedroom you can admire the morning sun and the sea, while the
view from the lounging area opens onto the city and the evening sun.


This is how architect Pieta-Linda Auttila describes her idea: “In the
beginning was the roaring sea. Powerful waves lifted from the depths a
wooden block, already darkened by sea water, and threw it against a
rock. The force of the blow broke the wood in the middle.” The curved
part, slashed into strips in the middle, forms a trellis and shelters
the atrium of the hotel. As for the unbroken ends, they are the living
quarters. The dark exterior and light interior of the WISA Wooden
Design Hotel likewise represent a broken block of wood. When the dark
surface of the block is broken, the original lightness of the wood
comes to light.


The WISA Wooden Design Hotel is a temporary building that will remain
in place in Valkosaari until the end of September 2009. The building
can provide overnight accommodation for a few people, but it is not
designed for general hotel use.
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