Local craftsmanship in the capital of northern Scandinavia
Lauri Louekari, co-founder of Louekari Architects, shares a guide of the creative university town of Oulu in northern Finland.
November 25, 2021
Louekari Architects are specialized in log construction and restoration projects; the office’s 40-year history also includes public buildings and housing projects. The office is based in Oulu and in the small village Revonlahti in an old 19th-century house. At the Revonlahti office site, the different wood materials and log structures are tested and developed within small scale buildings. For partners Anna and Lauri Louekari the forests around Revonlahti village and Oulu,are destinations of everyday excursions and recreation. Anna Louekari specializes in restoration and Lauri Louekari works with new buildings.
The city is located on the riverbanks of the Oulu River next to the Gulf of Bothnia. The estuary and the Hupisaaret with its hundred-year-old green parks and dozens of streams are the most distinctive of Oulu.
My favourite thing that makes me proud of Oulu:
One of the best things about Oulu is its diverse and high-quality university and especially the departments of literature and architecture which are most dear to me through my work, career and studies. Their dedicated teaching staff and friendly atmosphere create a great learning environment. The influence of the university radiates widely to the province with north-oriented art and research. Oulu is also known for its comprehensive network of cycling and light transport, so getting around nature is easy.
My favourite weekend routine:
The characteristics of a small town include that there is always a short distance to the surrounding nature. The riverbanks and fine forests of the north invite you to walk and explore.
My favourite cultural spot:
The city library by the sea is box-shaped concrete architecture from the 80s outside, but the exterior is bright and cosy — and also full of interesting books and international magazines.
My favourite place for dining out:
Rooster Café in an old 19th-century log house in the centre square. Even in the modernized space, you can still feel the atmosphere of an old Oulu townhouse.
My favorite place for a creative or business meeting:
Valve café in the old quarter of the city centre, where the former courtyard has been turned into a restaurant and café with a glass roof. In the same building, there is a film centre with libraries and the exhibition spaces of the Northern Photography Center. The International Children’s Film Festival also takes place here. The building also has several hobby facilities, e.g. yoga and dance halls.
My favourite breakfast place:
The best place to have breakfast is in one of the estuary parks, for example, the Hupisaari area, where we sit for a morning coffee while watching the small rivers and the birds.
My favourite local entrepreneur or creative I want to promote:
There are two young and skilled new architectural firms in Oulu, whose work is also beginning to show in the cityscape and in the smaller towns nearby: Luo Architects and Alt Architects. Their architecture is place-bound and rising in a beautiful way from the influences of the immediate surroundings.
My favorite city escape:
A wonderful 18th-century milieu along the Iijoki River 40 km from Oulu is Akola Manor, which is rented to visitors. The manor, recently restored, represents the finest architectural heritage of the north.
My favourite hotel for a staycation:
A small four-room Turusen Saha in Pikisaari, which is part of Pikisaari’s well-preserved 19th-century wooden house environment. The island is connected to the centre by a bridge and you can get around the island by a path along the seashore, the distance is about 1.5 km.
My favourite route for a run or walk:
The parks of the Oulujoki estuary, which are connected by footbridges. You can choose different routes from ten to ten kilometres as a jogging path, and the path always runs along the shore of a river or the sea.
My favorite place for fashion:
R-Collection is a local outdoor company from Kajaani, with casual design and high-quality materials.
My favourite space for great design:
Oulu market hall by Karl Lindahl and Walter Thomé from 1901. Still today a vivid place to meet the locals and buy the best rye bread and salmon in the world.
My favorite local media:
The local cultural magazine Kaltio (i.e. Source). Focuses on northern affairs, also on Sámi culture.
My favorite thing at home:
High log walled living/study room; a prerequisite for us to focus on creative work.