AALTOSIILO: Factum Foundation and Skene Catling de la Peña


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The Toppila Pulp Mill photographed in 1938 © Finnish Heritage Agency

© Raimo Ahonen

In a new initiative, Factum Foundation and Skene Catling de la Peña have acquired Alvar Aalto’s first industrial building, a cellulose silo in Oulu, northern Finland.

Working with the award-winning practice, the intention is to use research and technology to restore and reveal Alto’s building, a powerful, cathedral-like concrete structure that was once used for storing wood chips. The building has been neglected since it closed in the 1980s but is an inspiring example of concrete construction by one of the greatest architects of the C20th.
The goal is to establish a Nordic network of collaborators across Finland, Sweden, and Norway, including those with many years of experience documenting industrial heritage and its environmental impact in the north and the arctic circle. Factum is now in contact with potential partners such as the Aalto University, the University of Oulu, the University of Applied Sciences Oulu, and the Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO), as well as a network of other partners with diverse skills and interests. The AALTOSIILO will share and develop digital recording and output skills in the Nordic region.

In December 2020, Factum Foundation signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Oulu University of Applied Sciences (Oamk) which established the terms of a collaboration between the two institutions. The project will offer an innovative research and training program that responds to theoretical, practical, and ethical imperatives surrounding the use of new and emerging digital technologies for the conservation and rehabilitation of built heritage in the Nordic countries. Graduate students, Ph.D. candidates, and post-doctoral fellows will have the opportunity to collaborate on interdisciplinary research and training with some of the world’s leading academics and professionals working with the application of digital technologies for architectural heritage.

The fundraising is ongoing to support the restoration of this great building, empower the local community and open up the AALTOSIILO to an international audience dedicated to recording and revealing industrial architecture and the changing environment of the region. The renovation work is scheduled to start in Spring 2021.

© Tapio Snellman

© Charlotte Skene Catling for Factum Foundation

© Laura Heinonen for Factum Foundation


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