School history


''The Oulu School of Architecture has a distinguished history. The ‘Oulu School’ became a concept in the history of contemporary architecture. Even though the time of the Oulu School was linked with the international architectural features and the events of the end of the 1970’s, the era has still particular values of current interest and authenticity. It is justifiable to state that at that time the Oulu School was leading the architectural discussion in Finland and created its own architectural genre which is still recognizable and influential in the Finnish landscape.

Reflection and research of philosophical and theoretical backgrounds of architecture combined with practical teaching methods are a continual message from the past applied at the Oulu School of Architecture. Theory forms the basis and practice gives directions for problem solving in planning and design. Today we are talking about the concepts of Design by Research or Research by Design, which have been practiced in Oulu almost imperceptibly for years, if not decades. The seed of discussing basic qualities of architecture and philosophy sawn by Academy Professor Reima Pietilä has yield good crops for many years. On the other hand, the professional practice and northern circumstances have required unselfish attitudes towards the challenges of building in practice of the Oulu architects. 

In 2006, the Oulu School of Architecture was granted the status of ‘national top unit of artistic excellence’ for the period of three years by the Arts Council of Finland. The selection was based on the results achieved within the years of 2000 – 2005, with main focus on the outcome of the artistic activities of the students and the teachers. In the evaluation the main attention was on the achievements gained in architectural competitions, as well as works published in the domestic and international journals, books and exhibitions. Additionally, attention was paid on the teaching methods, the study program and the school’s inspiring study environment. The interaction between the teachers and the students was acknowledged.

Within the past years, after 2005, the results achieved within teaching and research, have been reflected both in design and research activities: the students have won several prizes in national and international competitions and the number of doctoral dissertations has been high. The benchmarking of research at the University of Oulu carried out in 2007 indicated clearly that the interaction between research and teaching of basic practices is pursued especially by the School of Architecture.

Today one of the strengths of the School is internationalization on the levels of teaching and interaction. The professors are internationally recognized architects and researchers. Courses in English are offered on master level for exchange students and foreign degree students within the International Master’s Degree Programme in Architectural Design. The aim is to link an extending number of international projects with the courses and to develop the teaching on student based criteria.

The Oulu School of  Architecture (i.e. the faculty of architecture of the University of Oulu) is a dynamic unit, which is curiously implementing architecture, art and technology. The Oulu School is determined to achieve an internationally recognized standing, both within education and research.''

Professor Rainer Mahlamäki,  Dean (Education)

Last updated: 14.3.2014