After BIG’s pavilion for Denmark at Expo 2010 Shanghai, this week’s instalment of the A-Z of Expo Architects has only a short distance to go, with Finland’s pavilion, designed by Helsinki-based architectural group JKMM, situated a stone’s throw away.

Winning a tough competition with over 100 entries, JKMM – composed of Asmo Jaaksi, Teemu Kurkela, Samuli Miettinen and Juha Mäki-Jyllilä – created a pavilion that offered a microcosm of Finnish society, responding to the theme of Expo 2010 Shanghai, “Better City, Better Life”. Dubbed “Kirnu”, meaning Giant’s Kettle, the pavilion was inspired by the many large cavities cut into bedrock that form a key part of Finland’s geography.

Surrounded by a pool of water and with a shingle façade evoking fish scales, the pavilion was an island of Finnish technology, nature and people. As with the exterior, the inside of the pavilion was remarkable for its simplicity, in line with JKMM’s signature style. In this way, winding passageways led visitors to a large atrium, where they were introduced to the six pillars of a “Good Life” – freedom, creativity, innovation, community spirit, healthy, nature.

The building itself used innovation to maximise its sustainability: the façade was made from recycled paper and plastic, with the thick walls and shape acting to reduce heat stress from the sun.

The creation was a success for Finland; abstract enough to offer visitors a poetic visit, while remaining close to the theme of the Expo. It proved so popular that with 5.7 million visitors over the six months of the Expo, it reached more people than the population of Finland itself (5.3 million), and won a gold award for pavilion design in its category.

For World Expo 2020 Dubai, JKMM is once again representing Finland, with the country’s pavilion – “Snow Cape” – combining both Finnish and Arabic design elements by evoking a traditional Bedouin tent covered in snow.

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