Changing the culture from the inside

In his quest of taking architecture forward, Pave Mikkonen believes in going, at least partially, back to the basics.

The customer expectations have gone through a remarkable fragmentation; one size has not fit all since… well, forever. Individual requirements, the need to stand out and get noticed as well as personalization in all forms have emerged as the new normal. Amazing experiences are what modern customers want, and their added value is fully understood. While this applies to just about any line of business, the development is especially drastic when it comes to fields that have a label of creativity in them to begin with.

Such as architecture.

However, at least for some, it feels like even though the customers are ready to bring the unconventional thinking to practice, the industry itself is not quite ready to adapt that fast.

Design Hotel Levi has been created on the terms of the customers and the environment; it blends naturally into its surroundings in Lapland, combining contemporary idiom with traditional materials.

Pave Mikkonen, an internationally renowned and recognized architect, believes the wheels are turning too slowly – if at all. Especially in residential buildings, there is a dilemma about who is, and who should be, making the big decisions.

– The real customers, those who will eventually live in the buildings, have very little authority over architectural choices, Mikkonen lashes out. – The power remains with the construction companies, who concentrate on staying profitable and on avoiding risks.

Mikkonen refers to common situations in which individual, creative solutions are frowned upon, based on the belief – or excuse – that the customers are not willing to pay extra. Instead, construction companies lean towards cost-effective, standard alternatives the are cheap to mass-manufacture and won’t raise any eyebrows.

At this point, we can only wonder what the future residents might have to say.

– The passion to make the end-product as good as it can be for the resident is run over by the construction engineer’s excel charts, Mikkonen storms. – The designer’s responsibility is to suggest ideas that improves well-being, but we are continuously being handcuffed by safe, standard choices.

Mikkonen also believes that without asking, there can be no knowing of how much the residents would invest extra if an innovative idea would be presented to them. Experience, however, shows that when it comes to the quality of living, people understand that a little extra is money well spent.

– People want to live in a home that means something to them. A home should be personal, it should reflect both the place where it is situated as well as the resident’s individual preferences. People do not want standard window sizes to begin with. They want windows that complement their home the best possible way.


Architect Pave Mikkonen

From the architect’s point of view, everything comes down to earning the trust; the customer has to believe in the ideas and their ability to add value. In creative business, that can usually be done with references and reputation. Both take time to establish.

Pave Mikkonen has done that, and now he is changing the culture with his uncompromising nature. He has proven he can challenge the mainstream design solutions successfully; now, he wants to make a difference on an industry level.

– The quality of living should matter the most, and I believe that is the direction we are heading to. We have to put smile back in people’s faces. The current values of construction will be questioned, and solutions that today are deemed too peculiar by the construction companies will ultimately prevail. The customer is, ultimately, always right.

Even the world of architecture is not changed in one day, but examples from countries such as Denmark and the Netherlands show that it can be done. With good examples, persistent work and a bit rebellious nature, anything should be possible.

– We have the skills and the required knowledge. The most essential thing is the genuine willingness to change.


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