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*UTK Finland Summer Architecture Institute
Helsinki, Finland; Jyväskylä, Finland; Kiljava, Finland; Nakkila, Finland; Stockholm, Sweden; Turku, Finland (Outgoing Program)
Program Terms: Full Summer
This program is currently not accepting applications.
Budget Sheets Full Summer
Dates / Deadlines:
There are currently no active application cycles for this program.
Fact Sheet:
GPA Requirement:
Language of Instruction:
Class Standing:
Junior, Senior
Language Prerequisite:
Course Prerequisite:
see program description Program Type: UT Faculty-Directed
Open to non-UTK Students: Yes
Experience Type:
Study Abroad
Program Coordinator: Michael Saenz
Field of Study:
Program Description:

Program Description

This 15 credit hour (combination 9 UT, 6 Aalto University) summer abroad program in Finland focuses on the role of architecture and design within the broader context of the the Finnish national cultural identity.  In the design disciplines of Finland, the constants of cultural identity – minimalism, pragmatism and an ecological conscience -- frame specific material and formal responses to the interrelationships  between the Finnish landscape and its architectural spaces.  These responses are highly specific and are deeply rooted in a wide variety of intuitive and unselfconscious  artistic expressions.

While the curriculum of the program has its focus on the architectural and spatial, it would be impossible to examine this particular architecture without a wider exploration and exposure to Finnish culture and its unique traditions. Ironically, the national history of Finland begins with the Russian revolution and Finnish independence in 1917.  Finland is that rare historical artifact – a nation defined by the advent and evolution of the Modern movement in art and culture.  This specific context has had a profound impact on all of the allied design arts-- from extraordinary work in wood, glass, and ceramics -- to furniture, textiles and fabrics, as well as the performing arts. All of these alliances of the arts culminate In Finnish architecture.  Finland remains one of a handful of countries that retains an extraordinary sense of craft within the contemporary framework of modern processes of industrialization  and prefabrication.

This broader frame for an alternative design education is explored through an in-depth investigation of the work of Finland’s architects.  The full range of representational  techniques and design methodologies  are explored with both American and Finnish faculty through drawing, photography, physical and digital modeling.  Design is understood as integral to all aspects of the program, from original work examining undocumented  works by significant Finnish architects to design competitions sponsored by the Society of Finnish Architects.  Each activity, event, or assignment is intended to expose students to the depth of another culture, and revels in each student’s experience of cultural assimilation.  This program provides a platform for learning by and through the direct experiences of the student, and an understanding of the both ourselves and the Finns as storytellers through the art and craft of


The coursework for the program totals 15 credit hours --  which includes the traditional six credit hour design  studio,  as well as three 3-credit  hour  Professional  Elective  courses.    The  studio  and  documentation  coursework  will be UTK Credit (ARC 490  and ARC 425 ) with the final six credit hours being granted by the Aalto University in Helsinki.

The program is structured in two separate sessions with a brief release for student free travel between the two sessions.   The first session  is structured  around  fieldwork  and subsequent  studio  work developing  full documentation  of the three or more summer cottages  of  these  architects.  Such  structures  are  intensely  personal  projects  and  students  are  presented  with  truly  unique opportunities to engage in the investigation of the architectural design process derived from these works.  The work done for each of the three 3-credit  hour courses  is developed  in concert  with one another.   Two Finnish  faculty, Jari and Sirkkaliisa  Jetsonen  will instruct students during the first session in concert with the Program Director.

The end result of the first session – in written, drawn and modeled form – is evaluated  by the Director and Curatorial  Staff of the Museum  of Finnish Architecture  for inclusion  in the museum’s  permanent  collection.   Currently  nine of the projects from previous years are touring in a major traveling exhibition of these unique artifacts of Finnish architecture.

During the second session students will take a 6 credit hour design studio in their respective discipline. The studio will be taught as a vertical studio with projects ranging from intermediate  to advanced complexity.   The studio uses the traditional format of program to design précis investigated  with physical and graphic investigation.   Previous projects have been at a range of scales from tightly programmed  urban information  centers to elementary  schools in new suburbs of Helsinki. The focus of this work is to work toward an integration  of the architecture  and culture of Finland with a broader understanding  of the global forces at work in contemporary architecture.

See the following sites for the excellent recent student work from the 2012 program:


Students will stay in doubles rooms in the Domus Academia student residence hall in Helsinki and in hostels during excursions.

Faculty Contact

Scott W. Wall
Phone: (865) 974-5265

This program is currently not accepting applications.

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