What significance and value does the architecture of the 1970s hold in our built environment?  

Next summer the Museum of Finnish Architecture in Helsinki will be taken over by the 1970s! The exhibition, accompanying exhibition book and outreach work will shine a new light on the architecture of this controversial decade.  

It is a common preconception that the architecture of the 1970s is ugly, of poor quality, ripe for demolition and aesthetically detrimental to its environment. Historical narratives often portray the decade as a time of efficiency, precast concrete elements and suburbs. In the midst of the triumph of modernism and the transition to postmodernism, the 1970s appeared to have lost its bearings and abandoned mental well-being as a guiding principle for design.  

A closer inspection, however, reveals the numerous merits of the architecture of the 1970s. A desire for equality and for the democratic treatment of all citizens permeated all sections of Finnish society. This was also reflected in the built environment. New social realities called for the recalibration of architecture as professionalism founded upon democracy, scientific research, the common good and universal competence. The 1970s in architecture was anything but a decade of architectural insignificance.  
The exhibition opening at the Museum of Finnish Architecture in May 2023, together with the accompanying exhibition book, will examine the architecture and other phenomena of this controversial decade. At the same time, the exhibition visitor will be challenged to reflect upon the significance of the built environment of the 1970s in the 2020s.  

The exhibition continues the series of exhibitions at the Museum of Finnish Architecture dealing with the architecture of past decades, which has now reached the 1970s.  

Image: Heikki Humberg