Meri Siren

"I love the complexity!"

Detailed design

In the beginning there is a vision – but in order for it to become a building, you need Meri Siren! Originally from Finland, she is a renowned implementation planner in Berlin. In the interview she tells us what excites her about implementing ambitious designs and how Finland has influenced her view of architecture.

“We have the most fascinating clients.”

You’ve been one of oow’s architects for over a year. How did that come about?

Mathis and I studied together in Berlin and after that I was always observing from a distance what he and Sebastian were putting together. We never really lost sight of each other. When I was invited to their new office launch party last year, Mathis asked me if I could recommend someone from the field of “implementation planning” – my area of expertise. They had just started looking for someone.

And?

I didn’t know anyone, implementation planning is rather unsexy for many architects. And it is extremely difficult for an office to find someone really good.

It also turned out that Mathis didn’t actually want a recommendation, but wanted to ask you, right? You’re an expert on this subject!

Yes, Mathis, what a sly old fox! (laughs) Then he talked me into joining oow. And honestly? I haven’t regretted this decision for a single day! Here I have found an environment that places great emphasis on the quality of the implementation planning. With Mathis and Sebastian I have two bosses who share my attention to detail. And: We have the most fascinating clients and because of my reduced working time, I am able to make my family – I have two children – and my career wonderfully compatible with each other. Couldn’t be better!

Why does implementation planning have this reputation of being rather bland?

Most architects see themselves as artists. They want to design and see their magnificent facades in the city! Implementation planning is supposed to be the boring part of the process: It is very technical, I draw up plans for the construction site so that the workers know exactly what they have to do. Then it’s all about sealings and fitting details.

What’s the attraction in this for you?

Am Anfang eines Gebäudes steht immer eine große Vision. Doch danach muss es natürlich so entwickelt werden, dass es auch wirklich baubar ist. Es gibt unzählige DIN-Normen, die erfüllt werden müssen, und ich finde es einfach unglaublich spannend, auch für schwierige und ambitionierte Entwürfe eine Lösung zu finden, die in der Realität auch Bestand haben kann. Der Kopf raucht am Ende – aber die Komplexität ist genau das, was ich liebe!

What does your day look like?

There is no normal daily routine. There are actually different tasks every day, which is what makes my work so versatile. At oow I no longer draw everything myself. This saves a tremendous amount of time for me and I can concentrate on the essentials: For example, I talk to the builder about which kind of windows he would like to install. What are the advantages of wooden windows or sliding windows, and how does this decision affect the space as a whole? We discuss different types of wood flooring and I am in constant contact with both the companies and manufacturers. And, of course, everything is planned in such a way that it meets all standards and regulations as well as the requirements of the builder.

“At the beginning of a building there is always a great vision.”

“As Finns, we think in very functional terms and love clear shapes and colours.”

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You are from Finland originally. Does your background influence the way you think about architecture?

I think so, yes. As Finns, we think in very functional terms and love clear shapes and colours. Precision is our top priority. Our design is rarely playful.

Do you miss home?

Sometimes I do, but we have a summer house in Finland and it takes me five hours to get there, door to door. It’s well worth it, even for a long weekend! But I can no longer imagine living there permanently. I love the urban vibe.

What kinds of construction projects do you like best?

That’s hard to say. Apartment buildings, social housing, student apartments: Everything has its appeal. I always find it exciting to make the most of small spaces. It’s amazing what you can do there with good architecture! But of course it is also a lot of fun to design a 400 square metre villa for two people! What’s important to me in all projects: I don’t like run-of-the-mill solutions. I like bold and unusual designs. Getting there is probably not the easiest and fastest way. But it’s worth it! And oow is wonderful for that: We have incredibly exciting projects – and the ambition to deliver the best quality!

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