Apr 28, 2015

Plus one

The news has already reached many of you, but as we couldn't be more excited let's post it also here. So this was how things looked like before April 18th...


...and this where we are after. Everyone is well, happy and ready to face the future. Even Urho is not minding the newcomer. Simply put, life couldn't be better.


Apr 8, 2015

Spring time tasks

A definite sign of Spring is when Pekka takes a round with our ever growing selection of house plants replacing old soil and if necessary, moving those outgrown their pots to bigger ones. This year he of course had a very eager assistant with a special interest on filling the pots with new soil.

Team Four Green Thumbs

In addition to the actions mentioned above, many plants also lost parts of variable sizes to hopefully give them a new, healthier life. As a result we also now have several rooting experiments ongoing (couple of examples shown below). It will be interesting to see which ones will actually take off...

Epipremnum pinnatum under the supervision of three Vodder birds

Ficus elastica in Kasperi vase by Erkkitapio Siiroinen 

Gardenia, a present from Minna's aunt

Dracaena fragrans, the most unique birthday "flower" from friends

Fingers crossed that the Spring would finally be here! Sun light, warm weather and green colors of nature would be most welcomed...

Mar 31, 2015

Déjà vu - painting

So a little while back we decided to start reorganizing one of the rooms upstairs for the baby. Up until now, it has only been in occasional use, mostly for storing and office purposes. Honestly, not much though has been invested in this room...

Can you sense my reluctancy to pose?

But finally, the growing family served as the perfect excuse to take the first step. The string bookshelf and desk moved downstairs, and after a bit of persuasion, Sofi agreed to give up her Muurame drawer units as an exchange to another drawer. We actually quite like the new location of the String shelf - not quite sure if it will be the final destination, but seems to be working quite well for now.

New temp location for the String shelf

Clearly, Pekka has been a bit short on projects lately and was eager to get down and dirty with some very basic renovation. On Saturday night, after all the furniture shuffling, he suddenly proposed we should repaint the walls. And to make a long story short, on Sunday afternoon, the task was completed.

Sofi checking out the equipment

It is funny how time flies. In September 2012, when Minna was in charge of the painting of this particular room, baby Sofi was sitting in a bouncer chair and observing. Now, she loudly and persistently demanded to have a brush on her own to be able to participate. And of course, Pekka could not wish for a better assistant! And when one basically lives in the middle of a continuous renovation, one of the benefits is that all tools are readily available. Just like this time - no need to run out to get brushes our paint, or anything else for that matter - it took only a few minutes to fetch everything from the bunker.

Set - ready!

It was a fun weekend - our idea of "family quality time". And the walls, of course, look so much better. The after pictures will follow, once we get the furniture in place...

Master and apprentice

Mar 2, 2015

Pallo door knobs by Timo Sarpaneva

Our recent stories have been appearing a bit sporadically, and in all fairness, we'd like to tell you why. No, it is not because we'd be in the middle of some laborious renovation project. Quite the contrary, nearly all projects are temporarily on hold, as other things in life seem to require much of our focus at the moment. Together with some business partners, Pekka just started his third company in addition to the two existing ones - perhaps a word or two more about that later. Minna, on the other hand, is finishing things at the office and preparing to switch gears for a while to focus on a very specific personnel development project of the soon-to-be-growing Team Olive Green. Summing it all up - quite exciting!

But we are, and never will be too busy to miss an opportunity to visit local auctions when something interesting strikes our interest. A little while back Pekka spotted some familiar looking door knobs while browsing through items to be auctioned here in Helsinki - fours sets of Pallo door handles (1964) by Timo Sarpaneva for Finnish manufacturer Primo.

Four sets for four doors. A perfect match

Timo Sarpaneva (1926-2006) was one of the most celebrated Finnish designers of all time, and one of those talented individuals whose work established Finland on the global map of design. Today, Sarpaneva's designs can be found both in homes and museums around the world, extending from utility glassware and art glass to textiles and graphics. While working for Iittala glass factory he also created Iittala's "i" logo, which still serves as the symbol of the company. Iittala's selection also includes a cast iron pot designed by Sarpaneva, which has become an internationally recognised design icon.

But back to the Pallo door knobs. Yes, as the set of four was clearly perfect for the four doors downstairs, Pekka just had to have them, end of discussion. And only a few hours later after his first bid, he was already in the bunker greeting the knobs with a warm bubble bath, as he does with most of the incoming old things covered with dirt and dust.

Restoring shine!

Just to be sure they were clean enough, he left the pieces in the warm water for some time.

Underwater view

After the bath the door knobs were rinsed and ready for a closer inspection to determine their current condition.

All washed and good to go

Once again, Pekka's sixth sense did not let us down. Apparently there were a few of the smaller parts missing, but for his DIY personality, this would be nothing to worry about. Those replacement parts can either be made or sourced. Either way, he would not mind at all!

Nearly complete set

So now, the first Pallo door knob has already been installed to the bunker door and it looks and feels fantastic! Incidentally, the door handles were launched the same year when our home was build in 1964. Also, there were exactly four sets for the four doors downstairs (although three of the doors are actually still missing). So call it a luck, or whatever, we may have once again found another match made in MCM heaven!

One down, three to go

Feb 22, 2015

DIY noticeboard

We really like the Tulip table by Eero Saarinen in the dining room. It is visually light, yet it is extremely spacious proven to host 10 adult dinner guests. But thus it is also a perfect junkyard for clutter with a varying degree of importance: keys, phones, toys, mail - you name it. Not only a beautiful table is regularly turned into a chaos, but in the worst case, the important stuff gets lost, forever.

So, very simply - we took one of the Konto acoustic panels used to build the downstairs slat wall and hung it up with sheet metal screws on a kitchen wall to serve as a noticeboard. And all the excuses for not being able to locate an important piece of paper suddenly fly out the window! Of course, this leaves a certain owl looking for a new location...

One of the many uses of acoustic panels

Feb 16, 2015

Luhta Home

It is a beautiful, one of the first "Spring-like" days of this year. Inspired by the sun it is quite a good moment to tell about a photo shoot which took place in our home in May 2014.

In April 2014, designer Anu Saari from Luhta Home contacted us as she was looking for a location to do a photo shoot for Luhta Home's Spring/Summer 2015 collection. It sounded like a fun collaboration, and thus we offered our home for Anu's use. With her team including stylist Susanna Vento and photographer Riikka Kantinkoski, she spent two intensive days capturing the highlights of the new collection into some very nice images (published by the permission of L-Fashion Group Oy).

Struktuuri towels (photo by Riikka Kantinkoski)

Luhta Home Spring/Summer 2015 collection is inspired by the love for gardening reflected both by the prints and color selection including lots of different shades of green. A line of garden related products has been also added. These can be used both on small balconies or bigger yards, or on terraces as well as inside. Too bad that our backyard is still not even a work in progress - fortunately, we do have the terrace which could use a small facelift after a looooong winter...

Runo kitchen towel (photo by Riikka Kantinkoski)

Muru baskets (photo by Riikka Kantinkoski)

It was fun to see how different our home looks when the set up and textiles are chosen differently. Some lighter tones in the bedroom could be a refreshing change for the coming Spring time.

Laulu and Kaisla bedsheets (photo by Riikka Kantinkoski)

Vihko bedcover (photo by Riikka Kantinkoski)

Vihko bedsheets (photo by Riikka Kantinkoski)

Pekka and Sofi have already talked about the annual plant maintenance project taking place usually in March. For different reasons, they both enjoy it a lot: one because of his love for green plants and their well-being, and the other due to her fascination of the opportunity to make a mess with a permission. We are thinking of also setting up a small herb garden at the atrium terrace.

Kylvö shelf (photo by Riikka Kantinkoski)

Garden etiketti (photo by Riikka Kantinkoski)

Garden baskets (photo by Riikka Kantinkoski)

And behind the scenes...we just tried our best to stay out of the way. Urho seemed a bit confused at times, and thus occasionally evacuated to our neighbours' place where the atmosphere was much more relaxing for His Sausageness.

What's happening? What is all this stuff?

Thank you Anu & the Team, it was fun! It was great to see how our home looks like via someone else's lens, and of course, the SS2015 collection looks great!

Jan 25, 2015

A moment with architect Osmo Lappo

Some time ago we were honored to invite professor emeritus Osmo Lappo, the architect of our home, for a visit. Lappo, born in 1927, is one of the central figures of modern concrete architecture in Finland. Among his most recognised work is the Vekarajärvi barracks in Kouvola, Finland, which was built between 1966-1975 and is a great representative of the concrete brutalism era emphasising construction materials and techniques. The Vekarajärvi barracks has received a recognition of an important architectural and environmental site both by Docomomo and the Finland National Board of Antiquities. More generally, Lappo's work includes a wide variety of residential, commercial and public buildings. 

Architect Lappo

For our pleasant delight, Lappo arrived with several original photos by photographer Simo Rista form 1960's brilliantly illustrating the early days of our apartment building. Browsing through the photos with Lappo's guidance took us right back to the very early days of the project, when Loviisa Agnisbäck, the owner of Ängskulla estate sold the land to Väinö E. Koskinen. Koskinen was the owner of a construction company responsible for building Niittykumpu region for the City of Espoo.

Koskinen had originally met Lappo in 1950's when they were working together in another project in Helsinki. As their earlier collaboration had been very successful, Koskinen invited Lappo to be the lead architect also in the Niittykumpu project.

View from backyard (photo by Simo Rista)

At that time, Danish architecture had a significant influence also in Finland - for example, many buildings were made of brick and had an atrium terrace. Lappo, as well, was following the prevailing trends of the 1960's, and was to include these elements in his design.

Back to the sixties (photo by Simo Rista)

It was not only our residence Lappo and Koskinen were working on in Niittykumpu, but actually the entire region including several different apartment buildings. To add variability and prevent buildings looking too similar, after the initial drafts Lappo assigned different project architects from his studio to work with each building. This was an approach he adopted while working in Viljo Revell's office during the early years of his career.

Plan for Niittykumpu region (original photos by Simo Rista)

A crucial consideration was the quality of the site where the foundations of buildings were to be laid. Basically, the buildings were located to areas where conditions were favourable. Also, for some apartments the chosen design reflects the site conditions - in one of the buildings, namely the "Pillar Building", has no basement and the ground floor is replaced by a string of massive pillars, as the site was too soft to support these structures.

There were already some houses on one side of Niittykumpu which needed to be taken into account when considering the areal set up. Therefore, the goal was to complement the existing infrastructure and surrounding nature as well as possible, which had a big influence on certain decisions. 

South view to Niittykumpu (photo by Simo Rista)

The construction process of our apartment building was quite fast. The design was completed during summer 1963, construction work started immediately and the apartments were ready in 1964. According to Lappo, very few changes were made during the process, as the plans were comprehensive and thus followed quite faithfully. At that time, Koskinen's company did not have the supporting infrastructure or cranes to build by using prefabricated elements, so all the work was conducted on site manually.

First, as soon as the design fundamentals were locked, the team started by building models to be able to work with the details, including e.g. the atrium terrace. The models were also useful when Koskinen was discussing with potential buyers. 

Original model, back view (photo by Simo Rista)
Original model, side view (photo by Simo Rista)

On top of the hill, the street and rock limited the shape of the building resulting in a serrated form in front. As a result, the back of the building followed the same serrated pattern, also complementing the surrounding nature as well as the existing small buildings further down the hill very well.

Protected front entrance (photo by Simo Rista)

Serrated form from the back (photo by Simo Rista)

The original windows were made of regular window glass units. Each window was also divided in three parts to enable efficient cleaning from both sides. The outside window glass could be opened to clean the inner surfaces, but the glass inside was fixed to the frame to prevent the escape of warm air. A few of the ten apartments still have the original window set up, but in our apartment the glass has been replaced by contiguous double-glazed insulated glass units, which no longer need to open for cleaning.

Discussing windows (original photos by Simo Rista)

None of the atrium terraces were covered, as the decision was left for the future owners to do what they wanted - first to decide whether they wanted a roof or not, and then the design of the roof. Also, originally all units were drawn with a second door in the living room leading to the atrium terrace. However, as the buyers were able to make changes during construction, it may have not been built to all apartments.

 Original windows (photo by Simo Rista)

In general, the upper level in all units was quite similar. More buyer specific adaptations were made downstairs, resulting in more variability between the units. Back in 1960's, Finnish tax regulations made it beneficial to limit the actual living area of an apartment to 119.5 m2. This meant the downstairs ceiling height and window size were limited, and in official plans the space was named an area for e.g. arts and crafts or storage. Some buyers added a cold room, and consequently the waste heat from cooling the cold room was captured to contribute to downstairs heating. Half of downstairs are was left unbuild, as at that time it would have been very expensive to do the mining and blasting work required.

Downstairs model (photo by Simo Rista)

Lappo's team was also responsible for the kitchen design, and the cabinets and other structures were manufactured by Turenki Sugar Factory carpenters (a contact of Koskinen). At that time, there were only a few kitchen manufacturers and thus existing contacts who were not necessarily specialised in kitchen manufacturing were used.

Kitchen area back then (photo by Simo Rista)

After a few hours of great discussion and revision of piles of pictures and plans it was time to say goodbye. For us, it was really a true honor and an absolute pleasure to meet professor Lappo and discuss his work, our home, which clearly plays a very significant role in our lives right now. We really appreciate he so kindly took the time to meet us. It is not very often you get an opportunity to dig a bit deeper to historical details, and especially with the guidance of the architect himself. 

Architect Osmo Lappo

  1. Interview with Osmo Lappo (November 23, 2014)
  2. Osmo Lappo introduction by the Museum of Finnish Architecture (January 25, 2015) 
  3. Niittykumpu by Osmo Lappo, Sanna Lahti 2003, Master's Thesis, Helsinki University of Technology
  4. All original pictures by Simo Rista 1963-1964 published with a permission of Osmo Lappo, who owns the rights to the photos. Please do not copy or use without permission.