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Architosh first reported on the work of A-KONSULTIT architects in a 2003 news article that brought to our reader's attention their important new auditorium work at Alvar Aalto's Helsinki University in Finland. The firm pushed the boundaries of building information modeling integration with the client and entire design team using the award-winning ArchiCAD software program on the Macintosh platform.

A longtime user of the virtual building model approach, the firm says their interest in what they call the "3D product model approach" isn't about just drawings -- something they say they still enjoy doing by hand (from time to time) -- but rather about the multiple benefits that come from the model itself. 2D drawings are just one aspect of that.

In this interview architect Jyrki Iso-Aho, SAFA, of A-KONSULTIT architects discusses the many aspects of BIM, the value of 3D models in practice, and why the firm has chosen to practice on the Mac platform for over 15 years.

AFR. Architosh first heard about your firm via an ArchiCAD press release regarding your firm's important work on the Aalto University in Helsinki. Can you tell me a little more about your firm and its background?

JI: The firm has quite a long history. It was started in the early sixties by architects Eric Adlercreutz and Nils-Hinrik Aschan. From the late sixties to early eighties the main body of the office was town planning and housing projects, with occasional public buildings -- for example the Finnish Embassy in Warsaw, Poland, in the mid-seventies. From the early eighties on we have been doing more public buildings, such as schools and day-care centers. Also restoration and renovation of historical buildings has become an important part of the practice.

AFR. Where is the practice located?

JI: The practice is located in central Helsinki, the capital of Finland.

AFR. How many architects and design professionals are on staff? Is the firm one of the larger practices in Finland?

JI: In Finland most architectural offices are small studio-like, the average size I think is about two to four architects. There are only a handful of offices with personnel over 50. Although we have today only 15 architects and design professionals, we are one of the bigger offices in this country!

AFR. It looks as though your firm's work is a bit industrial in character in addition to being contemporary. Is this a reflection of the firm's commissions? I have noticed -- for example -- that your firm has done some work for an airport involving the master planning of a new terminal and car park.

JI: Actually we have not been doing much for that industry. The airport master plan is more like a part of our longtime interest in town and master planning. The leader of our town planning department, Staffan Lodenius, is professor in the architectural department in the Tampere University of Technology. We have been involved in the master plans for three Finnish airports.

AFR. So you have an architectural professor on staff. Is your practice one where there is a strong connection to academia?

JI: Not particularly, I think five of us have had some teaching practice in universities over the years.

AFR. Can you tell me a bit about the Puotilan Asemanseutu project? Is this a housing project?

JI: It is indeed a public low-cost housing project...85 apartments in all. It started as an open 'design&construct' competition which we won a few years ago.

AFR. Is the "architectural design competition" a common means for your firm to obtain new work or do you enter the competitions for some other reason -- like for the intellectual stimulation and challenge?

JI: Competitions are always nice to do, for the stimulation and challenge as you said. Also the client who takes the trouble to organize a competition usually expects something over the ordinary, which is always welcome. And yes, it has always been a means to obtain work. We are quite often invited to limited or Design&Construct competitions, and have been especially successful in them.

AFR. I have noticed the nice drawings for the Konala project.


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