Paavo Lehtonen 2024
The exhibition addresses low-quality architecture and includes an installation and photography series based on fieldwork in building demolition sites.

Liisa Ryynänen
Helsinki, Finland.
An architect working in the field of public art, teaching architecture at Aalto University, and conducting historical research at an architecture firm
Field of work
Architecture, Visual Art, Photography
Project category
Project submitted

Liisa Ryynänen (b. 1994) is an architect focused on the history and theory of architecture, as well as being engaged in the field of visual arts. Ryynänen explores and develops experimental presentation and research methods in architecture and is interested in how they can aid in sensing and conceptualizing the environment in new ways.

Ryynänen is intrigued by addressing the transitional period in architecture and its underlying environmental catastrophe, not with traditional architecture projects or concrete technical solutions but rather through slower theoretical reflections and artistic expression. She works interdisciplinary at the intersections of installation art, photography, video and text, and is interested in architecture’s cultural affections and the reciprocities between material and human.

Over the past few years, Ryynänen’s practice has revolved around experimental fieldwork conducted especially in modern buildings threatened by demolition. Ryynänen studies and documents buildings through video, photography, and written formats, while also collecting building materials and components from them. The documentation and collected materials serve as an archive from which she develops her works. Ryynänen’s pieces often combine aesthetically undervalued everyday materials and peculiar spatial compositions engaging in dialogue with the exhibition space.

Ryynänen has participated in architecture, design, and, art exhibitions, and spatial interventions. She also collaborates with other architects, artists and collectives.

Ryynänen graduated as an architect from the School of Arts, Design, and Architecture at Aalto University in 2020, and is pursuing a master’s programme in Practical Philosophy at the University of Helsinki. In addition to her own practice, Ryynänen teaches architecture at Aalto University and works on historical research projects in an architectural firm.

The project addresses altered and low-quality surroundings as a part of wider discussions of care and maintenance in architecture. Pieces are based on authors ongoing fieldwork and were commissioned for the FIX: Care and Repair exhibition by The Museum of Finnish Architecture and Design.

When discussing care and repair in architecture, it is easy to focus on the maintenance of traditional or high-quality materials and buildings designed by professional architects. Significantly less attention is paid to modern, repeatedly modified, and low-quality architecture that in Finland constitutes most of everyday surroundings.

Conversely, within architectural culture and official history, including research and inventories, low-quality materials and alterations made by the users are regarded with hostility. They are seen to diminish the building's value, and at worst, serve as grounds for the entire building's demolition.

The project doesn’t offer concrete solutions for repairing low-quality architecture. Instead, it seeks to formulate more profoundly new cultural approaches to our low-quality surroundings with artistic means. It consists of two works based on fieldwork in buildings modified and threatened by demolition: an installation build of building parts (e.g. ceiling, plastic carpet, electrical conduits) collected from demolition sites and a photography series exploring the fieldwork.

While the author emphasizes the spontaneous alterations and the intriguing aesthetics of low-quality architecture, the project doesn’t consider poor restoration or materials as a goal in themselves. Rather, it is more about addressing them as already existing and valuable architecture, to which energy, raw materials, and work have been committed.

The project is part of the author's long-term practice. The author utilizes and develops the working methods and themes in new exhibitions, including the 2024 Helsinki Design Week and the 2025 Quit North exhibition.