Situated in central Ostrobothnia, Kaustinen is famous for its vibrant folk music tradition. Every year it hosts a significant event in folk music, the Kaustinen Folk Music Festival, which the festival organisation had earlier provided with a canvas-roofed stand for the main arena stand (designed by Roy Mänttäri, 1988) and other constructions. The Folk Arts Centre, completed in the summer of 1997, was planned to serve the music festival as well.
The folk art centre was initiated as far back as the 1970s. The activities of the centre include research, documentation, and performance of various forms of folk art. Cooperating with institutions of higher learning and other cultural institutions, it arranges exhibitions, provides instruction, issues publications, and distributes information.
The Folk Arts Centre is based on a winning entry to an open design competition held in 1990. The site is located in the centre of Kaustinen and includes a steep rocky slope bordering the village landscape. A panorama of low-lying farmland and village views opens down the slope. This landscape inspired the basic idea of the winning entry and its further development.
The main facilities, the music room, part of the exhibition spaces and the lobbies – half of the room programme– were placed inside the rock. The building masses rising off the rock houses the facilities for administration and instruction. Between the two parts there is a stairway directed towards the centre of the village, inviting people to socialise in the summertime: a beautiful panorama opens from the stairs and the stairhead.
The hall was designed particularly for acoustic music; it is suited to the performance of folk music and dance as well as classical music. The bare rock surface provides a good basis for acoustics. The beam system in the ceiling supports the maintenance and control bridges, the HVAC technology, and also the audiovisual technology, which is of some volume and requires constant adjustment.
The walls are clad with 35 mm thick spruce board, and part of the frame also consists of timber. In both exterior and interior walls, the boarding has been installed according to the repeated dimensioning system (in the lobbies and the hall), adding extra firmness to the architecture. The floors of the public areas are covered with spruce boards treated with lye and bleached. An essential material in the walls is concrete cast in board moulds. The floors of the lobbies are of concrete, ground and waxed. Stone from the excavation work was used to organise the courtyards, providing walls and ’stone gardens’. The choice of materials was an attempt to emphasise the atmosphere of festive modesty that was the underlying idea of the Folk Arts Centre.
The Folk Arts Centre was designed by architects Rainer Mahlamäki and Juha Mäki-Jyllilä (Kaira–Lahdelma–Mahlamäki Architects). They were assisted by architects Minna Lahdelma and Vesa-Jukka Vuorela. During the sketching they were assisted by architect Pekka Heikkinen.
Text: Finnish Architectural Review 2/1998