Back in the late seventies, Urpo Karesniemi first studied theoretical mathematics and physics at the University of Helsinki.

But I soon realized that I am a bit more practically oriented. I couldn’t see myself working only with theoretical formulas for the rest of my life.

Urpo Karesniemi, Sitowise

As Karesniemi found his inspiration from more hands-on work, he applied to the Helsinki University of Technology, or Aalto University as it’s called today.

- As soon as I had plodded through the basic courses, structural design started to fascinate me. Solving structural puzzles makes the work inspiring – and so far, we have always found a solution to the challenges, he says.

A prime example of this is the Lauttasaari Shopping Centre in Helsinki.

- Designed in 2015 to utilize the DELTABEAM® Frame, it has a couple of specialties. When you cannot use a standard solution, you have to think things over and see if you could use some other nearby structures to your benefit, that’s really interesting. For example, in the Lauttasaari project we suspended one floor from above to get the specified floor thickness.

What lies in the future of structural design?

From his vantage point, Urpo Karesniemi sees the further emergence of composite solutions.

- It is a no-brainer as with composites you can fine-tune the properties to suit both structural and business demands. For example, in wooden multi-story buildings, it’s a good idea to use steel and concrete in places.

Repairing buildings is also on the rise.

- It makes perfect sense to repair existing buildings to lengthen their life span as long as there is both financial and functional sense in it.

He has no clear favorites when it comes to materials.

- I always use what’s best for the project. All the materials are familiar to me, although I have not designed a house using plastics. I know for a fact that there has been at least one experimental plastic building which was designed and built in Finland in the nineties, Urpo Karesniemi chuckles.

This article is an extract from an article first published at Peikko Designer® website 25.3.2021.