Juhani Pallasmaa

Juhani Pallasmaa (born 14 September 1936 in Hämeenlinna) is a Finnish architect, former professor of architecture at Helsinki University of Technology and former director of the Museum of Finnish Architecture.


In the first period of his career, Juhani Pallasmaa was interested in rationalism, standardisation and prefabrication. This was largely due to the influence of his mentor Aulis Blomstedt, who was concerned with proportional systems and standardisation. Juhani Pallasmaa's first major work to demonstrate these principles was an industrial summer cottage, Moduli 225, which he designed with Kristian Gullichsen.

However, the models for this type of architecture belong more to Japanese architecture and the productions of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. In Finland, this type of architecture is known as constructivism - which has a close relationship with the avant-garde architecture of Russian constructivism. During the 1950s and 1960s, his work was in opposition to that of Alvar Aalto, who was increasingly regarded in his country as an idiosyncratic individualist.

Pallasmaa's interest in Japan bore the seeds of his future preoccupations with the materiality and phenomenology of experience. It was on his return from teaching in Africa that he moved away from pure constructivism to psychology, culture, and phenomenology. Today, Pallasmaa supports the importance of atmosphere in architectural design, and advocates a peripheral rather than central approach.

"We have been taught to conceive, observe and evaluate architectural spaces and settings primarily as formal and aesthetic entities. Yet the general, diffuse atmosphere often determines our attitude towards the setting in a much more decisive and powerful way (...) This thesis suggests that one of the reasons why contemporary spaces - compared to historical and natural settings that elicit a powerful emotional investment - often alienate us has to do with the poverty of our peripheral vision and the low quality of the resulting atmosphere. Centred vision makes us mere external observers, whereas peripheral perception transforms retinal images into spatial and bodily participation, and creates a sense of welcoming atmosphere and personal involvement. Peripheral perception is the mode of perception through which we capture atmospheres. The importance of hearing, smelling and touching in atmospheric perception (of temperature, humidity, air circulation) results from their essence as non-directional and global organs of sensation." - Juhani Pallasmaa, 'Perceiving and feeling atmospheres. The experience of spaces and places", Phantasia, 2017, pp. 120-121

Juhani Pallasmaa is a member of the Finnish Association of Architects and a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects.


  • Itis, Helsinki, 1989-1991
  • Kamppi Centre, Helsinki, 2003-2006.
  • Snow Show, Lapland (with Rachel Whiteread), 2004.
  • Bank of Finland Museum, Helsinki, 2002-2003.
  • Bridge for pedestrians and cyclists, Viikki Eco-village, Helsinki, 2002.
  • Cranbrook Academy of Arts, Driveway Square, Michigan, 1994.
  • Itis Shopping Centre, Helsinki; 1989-1991.
  • Ruoholahti residential area (landscape), 1990-1991.
  • Finnish Institute (with Roland Schweitzer), Paris, 1986-1991.
  • Elisa telephone exchange, 1987.
  • Old Helsinki Market Hall, Helsinki, renovation 1986.
  • Rovaniemi Art Museum, Rovaniemi, renovation, 1984-1986.
  • Tor Arne's summer studio, Vänö Island, Kimitoön, 1970.
  • Moduli 225 (with Kristian Gullichsen), 1969-1971.

Prizes and awards

  • Finland Prize, 2000
  • American Academy of Arts and Letters, Arnold W. Brunner Prize 20093.
  • Alfred Kordelin Prize, 2010
  • Steel Structure of the Year Award, 2006
  • 2014 Schelling Architecture Theory Prize
  • 1999 Jean Tschumi Prize for architectural criticism


  • "Studies in Silence" Exhibition of Juhani Pallasmaa's work at Valcucine Milano Brera, Milan, Italy, March 20144.


  • Juhani Pallasmaa (trans. Mathilde Bellaigue), Le regard des sens ["The eyes of the skin"] (Essay), éditions du Linteau, 2010, 99 p. (ISBN 978-2-910342-68-5 and 2-910342-68-9)
  • Juhani Pallasmaa (trans. Etienne Schelstraete), La Main qui Pense : Pour une architecture sensible ["The Thinking Hand: Existential and Embodied Wisdom in Architecture"] (Essay), Actes sud, 2013, 151 p. (ISBN 978-2-330-01240-3 and 2-330-01240-3)
  • Juhani Pallasmaa, Robert McCarter, Understanding Architecture, Phaidon, 2012, 448 p. (ISBN 978-0-7148-4809-9)
  • Juhani Pallasmaa, Encounters 2: Architectural Essays, Helsinki, Peter MacKeith. Rakennustieto, 2012, 334 pp. (ISBN 978-952-267-020-5)
  • Juhani Pallasmaa, The Thinking Hand: Existential and Embodied Wisdom in Architecture, John Wiley, 2009, 160 p. (ISBN 978-0-470-77928-6)
  • Juhani Pallasmaa, Archipelago. Essays on Architecture, Helsinki, Peter MacKeith, Rakennustieto, 2006 (ISBN 951-682-806-X)
  • Juhani Pallasmaa, Encounters. Architectural Essays, Helsinki, Peter MacKeith. Rakennustieto, 2005, 334 p. (ISBN 978-952-267-022-9)
  • Juhani Pallasmaa, The Architecture of Image: Existential Space in Cinema, Helsinki, Rakennustieto, 2001, 183 p. (ISBN 978-951-682-628-1)


Visit our media section for a complete overview.


Critical Regionalism
International Style
Juhani Pallasmaa
Kenneth Frampton


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This page was last changed on 2021-09-21.