Maiju Suomi and Elina Koivisto design the “Insect Hotel” Pavilion in Helsinki

Rough clay forms the walls of this pavilion in Finland by architects Maiju Suomi and Elina Koivisto, which aims to provide an urban habitat for pollinators and was presented as part of Helsinki Design Week.

Called Alusta Pavilion, the project was installed in the courtyard between the Museum of Finnish Architecture and the Helsinki Design Museum in June. It will remain in this location until October 2023.

Alusta Pavilion is located next to the Helsinki Design Museum

The discreet pavilion is made up of a series of low rectilinear structures created from clay in various forms, including rammed earth and burnt and unburned bricks, as well as wood.

Stacked on top of each other, the terracotta-toned bricks are characterized by intricate perforations, while the structures formed from wood panels are covered with biochar.

Platform Pavilion
Clay and wood were used to create the project

Architectural duo Suomi and Koivisto arranged the geometric structures in the courtyard to create a mix of seats and paths that accompany large grow bags filled with over a thousand species of plants.

Among these plants are pigeons, achilleas, daisies and field sardines, which attract insects to the pavilion so that they can inhabit it and pollinate its flowers.

clay pavilion
Intends to serve as an urban habitat for plants and insects

“Many visitors have exclaimed that this is like a giant insect hotel,” said Suomi, who designed Alusta in collaboration with Koivisto as part of the duo’s respective research projects at Aalto University in Helsinki.

The pavilion joins a number of other projects that have emerged in recent years, which were created for cities and are intended to tackle the dwindling populations of bees and other insects in these urban areas.

Pavilion in Helsinki
Visitors are invited to interact with the pavilion

Clay was chosen for the project because it is often found in Finnish gardens, and also because of its accessibility, according to the pavilion’s architects, who described the material as sustainable.

“We are used to measuring the toxicity of building materials with their maximum tolerated limits, which must not be exceeded”, explains Koivisto, talking about clay.

“What if we looked for alternatives that do not harm anything, or that are even beneficial to us?”

After the Alusta Pavilion is dismantled, the materials used to create it will be recycled and the plants will be reused.

A program of events is being held at the pavilion while it is installed in Helsinki, including children’s clay workshops and lectures centered on architecture and climate change.

Structure covered in biochar
Your materials will be recycled after the disassembly of the project

The pavilion was completed with the help of 50 architecture students from Aalto University. It is currently on display as part of Designs for a Cooler Planet, an exhibition by university students that addresses the climate crisis.

Other recent projects that have been created to promote biodiversity in cities include bio-bricks made by researchers in Mumbai and insect towers fashioned from recycled IKEA furniture.

Images courtesy of Maiju Suomi and Elina Koivisto.

Helsinki Design Week took place from the 1st to the 11th of September 2022 in Helsinki, Finland. See the Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.

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