LB°24 Participants

Eveliina Sarapää

Eveliina Sarapää, Buođđu, 2024. Installation view from Konsthallen Kulturens Hus, Luleå. The Luleå Biennial 2024. Photo: Thomas Hämén

Eveliina Sarapää (b. 1976, Oulu, Finland), is an architect with Sámi roots in Ohcejohka, who lives and works in Helsinki.

Sarapää specializes in demanding renovations and conversions of buildings, wooden architecture and Sámi architecture. Her aim is to ignite wider conversation about Sámi architecture in Finland through her work and to draw attention to the decolonization of architecture drawing from Sámi architecture epistemologies.

On view in Konsthallen Kulturens Hus, Luleå

Buođđu, 2024
4 structures in pine wood, videos.

Buođđu is an installation by Eveliina Sarapää inspired by the buođđu (fishing weir) her grandfather built every spring in the Deatnu River to catch salmon. These traditional low-head dams consist of tripods made of repurposed tree branches supporting fence panels, forming a barrier across the river to impede the upstream movement of salmon. Passed down through generations, these constructions were integral to Sámi traditions and vital for families' livelihoods.

While Sarapää never had the opportunity to build a dam with her grandfather, she has always marvelled at how such structures, erected by one person, could withstand strong currents without support from spring to fall. Sarapää interviewed relatives who built a buođđu and conducted research in books, old photos, and drawings, in order to design a contemporary version of these structures. She explored the buođđu from an abstract architectural perspective, contemplating its relevance in modern Sámi culture. Sarapää crafted her version from highly processed timber with elegant wooden joints, allowing the tripods and platforms to be disassembled and rebuilt, as versatile and multi-purpose structures to be used at different Sámi events.

This installation holds cultural significance as salmon fishing is deeply rooted in the heritage of the riverine Sámi people of the Deatnu, one of the world’s most vital spawning rivers for Atlantic salmon. The river and its salmon were central to the community of Ohcejohka, in Finland, where Sarapää's family originates. However, this way of life faces threats, as the salmon are not returning from the sea, the river is invaded by other predator fish and the whole ecosystem of the river is changing. The governments of Finland and Norway have prohibited fishing the salmon in Deatnu for the past 3 years, therefore disrupting the intergenerational transfer of local knowledge.

The installation in the exhibition not only encapsulates Sarapää’s memories and family histories but also represents various Sámi perspectives on architecture and the collaborative model of a Sámi Architecture Association, through recorded contributions from Sámi architects across Sápmi.

Buođđu also symbolises an architecture of symbiosis between humans and their surrounding ecosystems, showing the profound connections between the individual and wider changes in ecosystems, national policies, global interests, and dynamics. These structures also possess an archetypal shape that connects them to other places and cultures, as similar structures have been used by indigenous populations worldwide, including the First Nations.

Eveliina Sarapää studied architecture in the Technical University of Helsinki, Department of Architecture, and in the Oslo School of Architecture and Design. She has practised as architect entrepreneur since 2010 at her company Architects Sarapää and co-founded the Sarapää Oroza Hartiala Architects (SOHA) in 2020, which strives to act against demolishing buildings, exploring how they can be used and/or repurposed. SOHA’s work includes calling for renovations and transformations of existing and protected buildings, and careful addition of new buildings into existing city structures.

Sámi Architecture Association

Conversation with Sami Architecture Association at Konsthallen Kulturens Hus, Luleå, 26/5 2024. Photo: Thomas Hämén

With contributions by Eveliina Sarapää, Jenni Hakovirta, Joar Nango, Johanna Minde, Karin Wilstrand, Magnus Antaris Tuolja, Tone Berge.

The idea of a Sámi Architecture Association has previously emerged among Sámi architects in discussions initiated by Sámi architect Joar Nango, yet currently, such an association remains non-existent. The Sámi Architecture Association project, organised by Sámi architect Eveliina Sarapää in the framework of Luleåbiennalen 2024, aims to re-ignite such discussions and bring together Sámi architects and broader communities to collectively think on the potential content, roles, and structure of such an association.

This initiative aims to foster collective reflection, reciprocal learning, and coalition-building among Sámi architects and wider communities. It wishes to gather and generate ideas on how Sámi cultural, social, and spatial perspectives on architecture can garner increased recognition within the broader architectural discourse and influence ongoing urban and environmental transformations across Sápmi, and beyond. Such discussion is crucial at a moment when there is an urgent need for a holistic understanding of the relation between the built environment and its surrounding ecosystems, seasonal cycles, and species – a knowledge deep-rooted in Sámi worldviews.

The exhibition features first-person testimonials from Sámi architects across Sápmi, responding to questions and guidelines shaped by Sarapää. These inquiries prompt reflections on the nature of Sámi architecture, the roles of Sámi architects, what a Sámi Architecture Association could symbolise and enact, among other questions.


Jenni Hakovirta (b. 1988, Aanaar/Inari, Finland) is Aanaar Saami architect and PhD researcher. She studies power relationships, architectural processes, and Saami agency in architecture. Her PhD project focuses on defining Saami architecture as part of Indigenous architecture. Hakovirta lives in Aanaar on the shore of Lake Muddus. She is based at the Giellagas Institute in the University of Oulu, has studied BSc in Architecture at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow and completed her MSc in Architecture at the Oulu School of Architecture, Oulu. Her PhD research is currently funded by Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation.

Joar Nango (b. 1979, Áltá, Norway) is an architect and artist living in Romsa, Norway. His work explores the boundary between art and architecture and he often works with concept of nomadic architecture and indigenous technologies. He is a qualified architect from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) (2008). Nango has exhibited widely internationally, both in Documenta 14, the Chicago Architecture Biennale, and his works are represented in numerous large collections such as at the National Gallery of Canada, Moderna Museet in Sweden and the national museum of arts in Norway. In 2010, he founded the idealistic architectural collective Felleskapsprosjektet å Fortette Byen (FFB), and in 2023 he represented the Nordic countries in Architecture-biennale of Venice, Italy with his collective and mobile library project Girjegumpi - The Sámi Architectural Library.

Johanna Minde (b. 1989, Luleju/Luleå, Sweden), is a Sámi architect who lives and works in Stockholm. Minde is particularly dedicated to incorporating a Sámi mindset in the discourse on architecture. She works with the life cycle of buildings, with materiality and construction, and how they interact in harmony with a circular thought process. Minde also works on combining the Sámi craft of duodji with architecture. Minde is studying at the Royal Institute of Technology, School of Architecture in Stockholm, and has studied at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Faculty of Architecture and Design in Trondheim. She also studied duodji, Sámi handicraft, at the Sámi Center for Education in Jokkmokk. Minde has been combining architecture and duodji since 2005 under her own name. Minde’s work includes integrated crafts in the built environment, traditional duodji, and colour schemes.

Karin Wilstrand (b. 1988, Umeå, Sweden), is an architect and spatial planner with Sámi roots in Malå who lives and works in Umeå. Karin Wilstrand studied architecture at Umeå School of Architecture and Spatial Planning at Blekinge Institute of Technology. Since 2017, she has been working at Sweco Architects in Umeå as an architect and lately as a studio manager. Karin has worked as a guest lecturer at the School of Architecture in 2017-2018, where she occasionally returns for lectures and workshops.

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