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This autumn’s opening exhibition at the Alvar Aalto Museum is showing visual art by the architect Sakari Laitinen (1937−2015). Laitinen’s collage-like works combine an architectural approach with experimental play with colours, forms and materials.

Architect Sakari Laitinen´s colourful oeuvre will present a cavalcade of inventive creations by multitalented architect and artist. The exhibition shows what inspired him above all – an experimentation and the constant search for the new. Laitinen was gifted at drawing, and practiced art in parallel with architecture from his student years onwards. He influenced the field of architecture in diverse ways and, after retiring from architectural work, devoted himself wholly to art.

Sakari Laitinen (1937-2015) ranks among the generation of Finnish architects who began their studies in the late 1950s and who had a major impact on the evolution of Finnish architecture. From his undergraduate years onwards he worked with famous architects such as Alvar Aalto, and he designed a number of buildings both solo and as a team effort, includ­ing the master plan for Helsinki’s city centre and the regional plan for southwest Espoo and Kivenlahti.

As head of his own architectural practice, he created a relaxed, open atmosphere and was a supportive and motivational team leader for his assistants, always expecting as much from himself as he did from them. He spared no effort and always found time to commit himself wholeheartedly to every project he undertook. His architectural style can be described as 1960s constructivism, but numerous parallel aspirations were always evident in his designs.

Numerous parallel aspirations also characterize his artistic oeuvre. Already as a student, he proved himself highly gifted at drawing, illustrating and graphic design. In parallel to his studies and architectural work, he was a prolific creator of sketches and graphics. ”In previous decades, architecture was seen as being one of the arts and it was natural for architects to keep up with visual art and to be an integral part of the artworld,” says Laitinen’s fellow student and long-time friend, the architect Juhani Pallasmaa. The gradual digitalization of architectural design prompted Laitinen to close his practice and devote himself wholly to art from 1997 onwards.

His choice of materials also reflects his experimental, collage-like approach, his favourite materials being cardboard and wood glue. His fondness for cardboard cut-outs endows his work with the geometrical, ‘constructed’ quality of a scale model. Laitinen’s art has a distinctly architectural feel to it: many of his constructions resemble miniature edifices or facades – indeed they are easy to imagine blown up to the scale of real buildings. His career and training as an architect left an indelible mark on his style of expression.

On the other hand, exuberant use of colour is a distinctive feature of his artistic work, marking a clear distinction from conventional architectural scale models. While architectural plans are usually black and white, Laitinen’s constructions are a riot of colour with a wonderfully refined sensibility. His eye-popping, spatially stylized constructions mirror his architectural background, yet they also lead our thoughts in quite the opposite direction of architecture.

Laitinen held solo showings of his art in Finland and Germany. The title of his exhibitions in Berlin, Munich and Wolfsburg was Preoccupation, which aptly expresses Laitinen’s curiously serious and seriously curious approach to his art.

The show has been produced by the Museum of Finnish Architecture and curated by Juhani Pallasmaa, Sara Nuortie and Mikael Merenmies. The exhibition was shown at the Museum of Finnish Architecture in Helsinki in spring 2017.

The supplementary programme of the exhibition includes workshops and audience events. The exhibition publication, Line, space and colour. Constructions by Sakari Laitinen produced by the Museum of Finnish Architecture and Building Information, will be on sale in the Alvar Aalto Museum’s Alvar Aalto Shop throughout the exhibition period.

Further information
Mari Murtoniemi, Curator
tel. +358 40 355 9162

Press photos and interviews requests
Mirkka Vidgrén, Communications
tel. +358 40 168 5142

Line, space and colour. Constructions by Sakari Laitinen.
At the Gallery of the Alvar Aalto Museum 27 September – 4 November 2018
Alvar Aallon katu 7, 40600 Jyväskylä


Schwarzes Loch. Carton and acrylic.


Summer Morning. Colored pencil and ink.


Squared Blue. Carton and gouache.

Meditation. Gouache, pastel and ink.

Spirit of the Lamp. Gouache.

Filigree. Relief. Carton and acrylic.


Sculpture. Carton and acrylic.

Punainen kaveri (2015). Sculpture. Carton and acrylic.