The winning entry in the architectural competition held by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs for the Finnish Embassy building in Tokyo was AIKI, the entry by Architects Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Ltd. “The most important is to create an image of Finland. The Embassy must represent Finland in the right way,” said Rainer Mahlamäki on behalf of the winning architects’ office at the event held to publicise the results on 13 March.
The jury was unanimous in its decision to award first prize to the AIKI entry by Architects Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Ltd. The jury was unwilling to rank the other competition entries.
Rainer Mahlamäki, who represented the winning architects’ office at the event, said that the most important is to create an image of Finland. The Embassy must represent Finland in the right way. Recent history can show a handsome series of buildings that do a wonderful job of representing Finland.
A particular challenge was the need to house many different functions. Combined with the local building rules, this task was very difficult for the competition participants. “We think we found a good balance between economic demands and architecture,” Mahlamäki said. He stressed that they did not need to make poor comprises.
Architect Toni Peltola, the head judge selected by the entrants, said that the competition entries were different from one another and were all good solutions. Three of the six entries were in the running up to the finishing line. The one selected meets the objectives of the competition best and also leaves room for further development. The winning entry is very simple in form and is based on the use of a certain measurement system. In the opinion of the judges, it is the most adaptable without causing the whole to suffer.
Teemu Kurkela of JKMM Architects considers that the winning entry makes good use of the plot. Nor is the building outwardly concrete and material; its content proper is on the inside. However, the details of the façade, for instance, often take shape as the project advances.
According to Director for Real Estates Mikko Paaso of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the building will be constructed in a manner neutral to the budget; i.e. so that the government need not grant specific budget funding.
Under-Secretary of State Antti Sierla said, however, that he would be surprised if the building were completed during the present decade. “Owing to the economic situation in Finland and Japan, it’s probably necessary to put the project on hold for a bit,” he continued.
According to Sierla, the competition showed that it pays to use the building approach neutral to the State budget for competitions. “We needed a midway point so that we could see whether this concept is feasible,” he stated.
Ambassador Jorma Julin added that about ten other countries have used the budget-neutral approach to build embassies in Tokyo.