New Standards

New Standards presents the story of Puutalo Oy (Timber Houses Ltd.), an industrial enterprise established in Finland in 1940 to help rehouse some 420 000 refugees, most of them displaced from Karelia due to the Winter War.

During this national crisis, architects and industrialists came together to create a new model of factory-built housing. In less than a decade, Puutalo modernised Finland’s construction industry and became one of the largest manufacturers of prefabricated wooden buildings in the world. 

Puutalo in the world

The story of Puutalo illustrates the ways in which architecture connected with political, industrial, and economic forces during a period of intense global exchange and development. By the mid-1950s, the company had shipped buildings to more than 30 countries on all the continents. The houses were developed by some of Finland’s leading mid-century architects, and their archetypal exterior appearance belies the innovation that went into their structural design, spatial arrangement, and domestic utility. Today, thousands of these modest model houses – possibly Finland’s most widespread architectural export – can be seen around the world.

Puutalo at Perspektivet

New Standards includes archival material such as drawings, photographs and advertisements that illustrate the ambitions of the post-war period, reveal new design innovations and illustrates how different building types were modified for different climates and cultural contexts. 

The exhibition includes contemporary photographs of Puutalo houses in Finland, Denmark and Colombia, commissioned from acclaimed photographer Juuso Westerlund to show how these houses are inhabited today, and how they have been personalized over decades of use.

About the Exhibition

Originally commissioned and produced by Archinfo, the Information Centre for Finnish Architecture, for the Pavilion of Finland at the Biennale Architettura 2021 in Venice, the exhibition has since travelled in Finland.

Production: Archinfo – Information Centre for Finnish Architecture
Original concept, research and curatorial work: Laura Berger, Philip Tidwell and Kristo Vesikansa
Exhibition architecture: Philip Tidwell
Photography: Juuso Westerlund 
Graphic design: Päivi Helander
Exhibition website: 

At Perspektivet Museum:
Production: Marthe Fjellestad and Mari Hildung
Text translation: Marthe Fjellestad

Special thanks to Ulla Kallakivi and Katarina Siltavuori at Archinfo