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Seminar on the architecture of Raili and Reima Pietilä in the Middle East on 21 Nov. at Aalto University

Transcultural Architecture
21 November 2018 at 14:00–17:00
Aalto University, lecture hall U6
Otakaari 1, Espoo


The seminar explores the work of Raili and Reima Pietilä in the Middle East and India.


Finnish architects Raili and Reimä Pietilä are perhaps best known for the Dipoli building on the Aalto University campus. Their work is often seen as typifying the spirit of place in Finland. But they were also able to apply such thinking to projects outside Finland, notably in the planning of the Sief Palace area in Kuwait in the Middle East and the Finnish Embassy in India.

The seminar stems from the work of Professor Thorsten Botz-Bornstein, who has followed the history of the Pietiläs’ Sief Palace area in Kuwait in his book Transcultural Architecture (2017). Sadly, his research shows the heavy remodelling of the Pietiläs’ architecture – which nowadays is virtually unrecognizable. Thorsten Botz-Bornstein is a German philosopher specialising in aesthetics and intercultural philosophy. He studied in Sorbonne, received his PhD from Oxford University and, in the 1990s, conducted four years of postdoctoral research at the Universities of Helsinki and Tampere. Since 2009, he has worked as a professor at the Gulf University for Science and Technology in Kuwait.

The other speakers of the seminar are architect and researcher Kristo Veskansa, who will talk about the Pietiläs in Kuwait, Professor Emerita Aino Niskanen on the Pietiläs’ work in Dubai, and architect Samuli Woolston of ALA Architects, who will present the restorations of Dipoli and the Finnish Embassy in New Delhi, India.

In parallel with the seminar, a small exhibition of Professor Botz-Bornstein’s photos of the fate of the Pietilä’s Ministry Building in Kuwait is on display at Otakaari 1, 2nd-floor main lobby from 21 to 30 November.

The seminar is organised by the Gulf University for Science and Technology, Kuwait, in cooperation with the Department of Architecture, Aalto University.

The presentations and discussion will be held in English.
The event is free of charge and open to everyone.