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Former cross-country ski world champion Matti Heikkinen sends congratulations to the Finnish Olympic Team:
"A performance as strong as concrete!"


What else would Finns have on their minds during the Olympics other than skiing. In the home of former cross-country world champion Matti Heikkinen skiing is still present every day - also in a quite surprising way - in a Graphic Concrete art piece called ”Joukko”.

We had a chat with Heikkinen on the 10th of February after Finland had won yet another Olympic medal in skiing.

"Joukko" - art piece. Joukko is Finnish and means group. Photo by: Lakka

We find this wall sized art piece, produced with Graphic Concrete, in the home of the world champion - who nowadays is working as a Communications Director in the construction industry. 

This family home was built in 2014 in Jyväskylä, Finland. Matti Heikkinen’s brother, Architect Sami Heikkinen, was a natural choice as the designer of the house. According to the architect, the starting point for the design was the carefree living of a family with children – keeping in mind the durability and adaptation to different life situations. The main materials in the building are glass and stone on the vertical surfaces and wood on the horizontal ones. The building comprises four stone sections for the bedroom and bathroom spaces. The space formed between these include the living- and dining area, the kitchen and the entrance hall. It´s here we find the Graphic Concrete art wall.

Matti Heikkinen tells that the story of using Graphic Concrete in his home began when, now late Arto Suikka, a great influencer in skiing and construction, took the initiative to use the Graphic Concrete technology in Heikkinen's future home. The matter moved forward when Heikkinen's brother Architect Sami Heikkinen found the artist Tatu Tuominen.

Black and white image of the art piece.

Visual Artist Tatu Tuominen was excited over the commissioned work, where the main idea was to create a durable, timeless piece of art. Although he could find similarities with other graphic art techniques, the Graphic Concrete technology was still fascinating and new. The chosen material was hard and heavy, and the work would become an integral part of the family home.

Tuominen describes that the only requirement for the design was the connection to skiing. After many initial sketches Tuominen’s image, based on a bird's-eye view photo of the start of a ski race, was selected. At first glance, the work appears as an abstract pattern, but when viewed upon more closely, it reveals dozens of skiers and their shadows moving forward as a massive group.

Tuominen wanted to showcase a more social side of this sport that usually highlights individual performance. Tuominen describes: “Sport brings people together and offers meaning to life - to world champions as well as to enthusiastic laymen. Skiing alone in the winter forest is wonderful, but in addition to the skiing itself there is much more that the sport has to offer - friendship, emotions and a whole culture. ” 

As the final quality of the work was important, the Finnish Precaster LAKKA who is well versed in the Graphic Concrete technology, was chosen to produce the precast concrete panel. Matti Heikkinen tells that the construction of his new family home was quite interesting. This heavy inner wall panel was installed before there even was a roof on the house.

The art piece can be viewed from different places in the building. Photo by Lakka

Now, after living in the house for almost 8 years, Heikkinen often sits by his coffee cup in the kitchen watching the art piece. It still evokes thoughts: “It is layered and multidimensional. There are other dimensions to it than just skiing. It's exactly what we wanted, and it has proven to be timeless.”

You don’t get bored watching it, - although the architect and brother has jokingly suggested that the work can be hidden behind a board if wanted. There has been no need for that. Heikkinen also wonders about concrete being such a durable material. Although the wall is in a very central place in the house, it still looks as good as new.

When we ask Heikkinen about a greeting to the Finnish Olympic team, you can hear a smile and genuine enthusiasm in his voice: "Congratulations to the whole team already at this point; your performance is as strong as concrete!”

We join Matti in the Congratulations!

Project details 
Building: Lakka Kivitalo
Architecture: Sami Heikkinen, INARO Arkkitehdit
Architect & Designer: Tatu Tuominen
Color: White cement
Pattern: Designer's own
Prefabrication: Lakka Elementti ja Valmisbetoni Oy
Type: Residential Building 
Year: 2014