Sami / From Nature

architect Sami Rintala
interviewed by Miranda Veljačić


As a part of his specific work process, Sami Rintala questions the known and present ‘order’ within the architectural and construction fields. He focuses his work on man in direct contact with nature and re-examines the fundamental qualities architecture brings to humans. Through projects which are usually of a very small scale he proves the elementary values that make a space liveable and a pleasant place to spend time in. He removes from the project all additions that are the usual result of the client’s pretentiousness, the design ambitions of architects and rigorous construction rules, and declares them redundant. He re-examines construction types demanding that the buildings directly fulfil a person’s needs in his natural surroundings.  His works are characteristically in line with the way of life of the inhabitants of Norway’s Arctic Circle. Ideas that originate in sparsely populated polar surroundings and are imported into overpopulated cities give us an insight into real human needs for built space. These ideas and the process of their materialization, especially through the subject of building hotel accommodation were the topic of our conversation.


ORIS: The ‘site specific’ hotel in Kirkenes harbour was created as a temporary architectural installation for The Barents Art Triennale in 2005. The building you built for that purpose is still there today. Why did the city decide to keep the hotel even after the exhibition?


Rintala: I hope it is because it has become some sort of an unofficial part of the symbols of the city.


At least I thought so while constructing it, it should be small and clever rather than big and powerful, just like the city itself. Then again I have noticed before that a certain type of architecture that is meant to be temporary becomes very permanent. It perhaps catches the essence and spirit of the time and place better than a monumental bureaucratic project that has its weight of responsibilities and professional seriousness on its shoulders, even when just born to this world.