Image: Form Studies: Mass and Light
On the banks of the Ivalo River in Finland, 250 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle, time is marked by a unique ritual of seasons. In the far North, summer and winter pass by in extremes, and the turns of the seasons bring forth both beauty and challenge. For the people of Ivalo, time, river and culture are intertwined. While the river represents nourishment, recreation and transport for the village, it equally and critically also represents risk. Seasonal floods threaten to overcome existing engineered barriers, and the village’s current building practices are ill-suited for flood exposure.
In response to this context, the project proposes a more passive architectural typology for the floodplain. Heavy stone and concrete bases temper the demands of water and ice, while light wood construction above addresses variations in daylight and the passage of time via weathering and renewal. This strategy is elaborated through a series of small buildings placed independently along sandbanks at the river’s edge. The buildings are uniquely site specific, but as a family they suggest a robust and unified architectural approach for the river in tune with the needs of both the landscape and the culture.