The Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects partnership was established in 1992, although architects Rainer Mahlamäki (b. 1956) and Ilmari Lahdelma (b. 1959) have worked together since the 1980s. The award-winning architectural practice has become one of the most internationally recognised Finnish architectural offices, the hallmarks being the Museum of the History of Polish Jews inaugurated in Warsaw in 2013, and the Finlandia Prize for Architecture in 2014. Their portfolio includes an astonishing array of successful competition entries resulting in widely published public buildings from schools to museums.
This recent monograph showcases 15 astonishing buildings from their prolific career: The Finnish Forest Museum and Information Center Lusto (Punkaharju 1994); Tapiola Church Columbarium and Urn Cemetary (Espoo, 2004); The Finnish Folk Arts Center (Kaustinen, 1997); Soininen Elementary School (Lohja, 1997); Vaasa City Library (Vaasa, 2001); Eestinmetsä Community Service Center (Espoo, 1998); Joensuu Comprehensive School (Joensuu, 2006); Lohja City Library (Lohja, 2005); University of Helsinki Natural Sciences Complex (Helsinki, 2004); Meilahti Hospital Entry (Helsinki, 2010); University of Jyväskylä Student Union (Jyväskylä, 2003); Finnish Food Safety Authority Building (Helsinki, 2006); The Finnish Maritime Center Vellamo (Kotka, 2008); The Finnish Nature Center Haltia (Espoo, 2013); and the Museum of the History of Polish Jews (Warsaw, 2013).
The book also contains basic project data of the published projects, short biographies and a list of the team members. Peter MacKeith’s analytical essay and comprehensive interview, and the foreword by Jorma Mukala, the editor-in-chief of the Finnish Architectural Review, add a critical and relevant theoretical context to the richly illustrated contents.
Cutting across the personalities and stylistic preferences, recognizable qualities to contemporary Finnish architecture are yet visible, one consistently reliant on an attention to site and landscape, an ambitious statement of form, the knowing use of materials and light, the desire for detail – and a commitment to a public architecture of ambitious cultural significance. These are certainly the consistent hallmarks of the work of Lahdelma and Mahlamäki. Theirs is architecture of such sustaining value and character, and the consistency of that quality over a quarter century is as notable as the accomplishments of the individual buildings.
– Peter MacKeith, editor, Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects: Works, p. 19.