2019 JUL–AUG

Architect Sanni Sipilä calls for imperfection

Sanni Sipilä, our architect-in-residence July–August 2019, finds inspiration in flaws and irregularities, and looks for the imperfectly perfect. During her two-month residency in New York, Sipilä will start a research project on the beauty of imperfection in architecture.

Kukkaniitty Day Care Center, Helsinki, Linja Architects, 2018.

Kukkaniitty Day Care Center, Helsinki, Linja Architects, 2018.

Sipilä graduated from Aalto University’s Department of Architecture in 2016, and is currently working at Verstas Architects. She finds working with public architecture and projects commissioned by cities the most rewarding. With the Verstas team she is currently designing a new hospital. Previously she has been working mainly with schools and nurseries.

“Environmental values are very important to me, and I don’t want to design buildings that are unnecessary. Feeling that I’m doing something beneficial and having a clean conscience about the results of my work is essential.”

During her studies, Sipilä lived in Japan for two years. First as an exchange student in Osaka in 2013, and two years later in Tokyo, where she finished work on her diploma at Tokyo University of the Arts. Japan has since served as the most important source of new ideas for Sipilä. She is especially inspired by the traditional aesthetics of wabi-sabi, the concept of finding beauty in imperfection. Sipilä would like to explore this idea further in an architectural context:

Sanni Sipilä, diploma work, Aalto University, 2016. Designed for Miyatojima, Japan, this sauna and spa functions as a calming space for the victims of the tsunami. Image from the spa area.

Sanni Sipilä, diploma work, Aalto University, 2016. Designed for Miyatojima, Japan, this sauna and spa functions as a calming space for the victims of the tsunami. Image from the spa area.

“I am confronting the conundrum of perfection – which often strikes me as clinical and impersonal. Rather, I am fascinated by things that are generally considered flawed or faulty in today’s architecture. In my mind the defects and irregularities often make many buildings or art in general more interesting.”

Starting in New York City before applying for doctoral studies, Sipilä is planning to search for the architectural ‘mistakes’ in our layered city:

“In Japan the architectural perfection is always mixed with imperfection, but I can definitely see a similar situation in New York City as well.”

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