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Student pavilion: Westminster University’s shelter in the Finnish woods

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Westminster University students’ hand-built shelter in the grounds of the Lusto Forestry Museum was constructed as part of the Mobile Home 2017 project, celebrating the centenary of Finland’s independence

Third-year architecture students designed and built the timber ’laavu’ or shelter in the Punkaharju forests of eastern Finland. The structure was built from locally sawn red pine without the use of power tools. Construction was completed in nine days under the guidance of architects Sami Rintala of Rintala Eggertsson and Tom Raymont of Arboreal Architecture.

The shelter was built spontaneously and collectively without the use of drawings, simply by arranging and adjusting elements until the group agreed on the correct design. From footings and floor to columns and roof, each part was built in response to the former but without predetermining what was to follow, resulting in a site-specific structure.

The first step was the arrangement of large local boulders to form a hearth within a zone of rocks. Across this field of stones timbers were laid to form a ring-beam with short posts taken down for support on the larger stones. The resulting floor deck left a wide opening over the hearth allowing users to dangle their legs down while sitting around the fire.

19 Interior NN

19 Interior NN

Source: Niklas Nabb

The floor, columns, walls and roofs were all built from hand-sawn timber and nails. Linen oil was used to give the roof additional protection while all other members were left to weather. The structure, designed to last a few years, or decades if regularly maintained, forms a public gathering space for up to 20 people located just off a popular hiking and skiing path in the forest. 

The workshop was commissioned by the Finnish Institute in London, as part of the Mobile Home 2017, a collaborative project between the Finnish Institutes in Paris, Berlin and Benelux Countries, and also of Finland 100, celebrating the country’s centenary.

01 Lastu Floor Plan

01 Lastu Floor Plan


Project data

Completion May 2017
Project organisers Pauliina Ståhlberg, the Finnish Institute; Harry Charrington, head of department of architecture, University of Westminster
Client Helkamari & Eero Knaapi, Lusto Forestry Museum 
Tutors Sami Rintala, Rintala Eggertsson; Tom Raymont, Arboreal Architecture
Students Alberto De Castro Moreno; Allaster Grant; Muhammad Husain; Ana Diaconu; Carla Hora; Jessmine Bath; Joshua Corden; Maryam Saleemi; Ola Hjelen; Wan Wong; Tudor Cristescu; Yagmur Yurtbulmus

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