short bio

Trained both as an architect and visual artist, Maija Kovari works in the fields of urban planning and contemporary art. She started her career with sculptures and installation works, participating in exhibitions in Finland, Germany and Switzerland. Working also in art management, she curated and organized several exhibitions and worked for a non-profit art institution called Rajataide that facilitated the work of young and emerging contemporary artists. On her vice president year 2012 Rajataide won the highly acclaimed government price for visual arts. 

Getting increasingly interested in public space, Kovari studied to become an architect, while maintaining an artistic practice. In her studies in architecture, she concentrated in planning and urban design, and in 2012 started working for Rambøll, one of the leading consultant companies in the Nordic countries in the field of urban development. Her role in Rambøll included urban planning and design projects of different scales, from master plans to streetscapes. Surprised however about the lack of artistic collaboration in the company’s urban space projects, she began developing ways to integrate the work of contemporary artists into public design processes in the company. Kovari also wrote her master’s thesis in architecture on the collaboration of these two fields, and afterwards conducted a further study on the subject, working as an artist in a street design team while building an organizational model for other artists to do the same. 

In 2016, she left her position at Rambøll to start her own company. Public Art Agency Finland (PAAF) consults municipalities and corporations on integrating art into urban areas and their design processess. At the moment, PAAF works in collaboration with several Finnish municipalities and urban planning consulting companies such as Rambøll and WSP. You can read more about Public Art Agency Finland on the company webpage, here.

While running Public Art Agency Finland, Kovari has continued her own artistic practice, with an emphasis on installation and sculpture in public space. You can find her latest works here, and blog posts on works in progress here.

For any questions, you can contact her at maija (^-^) kovari.fi 


Work positions

1 / 2016 - 

Director at Public Art Agency Finland

  • Facilitating the use of contemporary artists in the field of urban planning

  • integrated public artworks as part of urban design projects

8 / 2012 - 1 / 2016

Designer & Artist at Ramboll Finland Oy

  • strategic planning and general development of urban areas trough land use planning

  • developing the role of art as part of urban planning and design

  • designing integrated artworks as a member of urban planning and design teams

  • site planning and detailed urban design

6 / 2012 - 8 / 2012

Assisting designer at Area Planning / City of Tampere

  • area planning and other site-specific land use planning

  • graphic design

1 / 2011 - 3 / 2012

Producer & Curator at Borderlines Exhibitions / Finland & Switzerland

  • curating and producing a pair of contemporary art exhibitions

  • finding collaborators and organizing funding

6 / 2010 - 8 / 2010

 Graphic Designer + Assistant Producer at Cultural Services / City of Tampere

  • setting up exhibitions, familiarizing with processes of exhibition production

  • graphic design of marketing material

education

Architect, Msc.Arch, 2010 - 2014   /   School of Architecture, Tampere University of Technology, Tampere, Finland, 

Bachelor of Visual Arts, B.F.A., 2007 - 2011   /   Fine Art, Tampere University of Applied Sciences, Tampere, Finland

Specializing in installation and sculpture, 2009   /   Construction - Art & espaces, Haute Ecole d’Art et de Design, Genève, Switzerland (Erasmus Exchange Program) 

Basics in Philosophy, 2006 - 2007 /   Faculty of Philosophy, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

Basics in Architectural Design, 2005 - 2006 /   Faculty of Architecture, Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland

 

Read more about art programs and strategic planning projects I've led on the company website of Public Art Agency Finland - here

Design projects - summary

2016 -          Public Artwork Coordination / City of Espoo

  • Coordinating the execution of a wall painting in Tapiola, Espoo.

2017 -          Public Art Program / City of Espoo

  • Creating guidelines for the city to use contemporary art in public spaces.

2017 -          Public Art Strategy for Urban Planning / City of Mikkeli

  • Creating a strategy for the city to use contemporary art in public spaces.

2017            Public Art in the Arctic Region / University of Lapland, companies from the arctic travel industry

  • Creating a strategy for the travel sector in Lapland to use contemporary art in public spaces.

2016 -          Public Artwork Coordination / City of Espoo, Ramboll Finland

  • Coordinating the execution of a public artwork consisting of a wall painting and a sculpture in Niittykumpu, Espoo.

2016 -          Plan for temporary artworks / EMMA Museum of Modern Art, Espoo

  • General redesign of the plaza in front of the museum to better function as a site for changing artworks

2015 - 2016    Laukaa City Center Masterplan - invitation competition, 1st prize  / City of Laukaa

  • The infill development and the visual quality of the cityscape, new buildings GFA 85 000 m². Please find pictures and more info here.

  • (as part of a team at Ramboll)

2015 - 2016    The pedestrianization of Tuomiokirkonkatu Street - area plan / City of Tampere

  • Creating the area plan to enable the pedestrianization of a central street

  • (as part of a team at Ramboll)

2015 - 2016    Artist in a street design team - a pilot project / City of Tampere 

  • Leading a project to develop new ways to integrate artists’ work into urban design processes

  • Working as the artist in the team, producing both designs for the artworks, and a written report on how this kind of collaboration could be put in wider use. Please find the report here (in Finnish) and a description of the project here.

2014         Idea competition of Vuolteenotri Square - a competiton to develop a riverside square  / City of Tampere

  • In the invited competition we renewed the functionality and visual quality and the of the square. Pictures and more info here.

  • (as part of a team at Ramboll)

2014 -       Kyttälä general plan / City of Tampere

  • Designing the streetscapes to facilitate pedestrianization of a central part of the city

  • Defining preliminary suggestions for the role of public art in the area

  • (as part of a team at Ramboll)

2014 - 2015    Lahti General Master Plan / City of Lahti 

  • Designing the streetscapes, the role of art in the city center

  • General plan for the role of public art in the city center

  • (as part of a team at Ramboll)

2013 - 2014    General Plan of Olavinkatu Street and Central Square  / City of Savonlinna 

  • Designing streetscapes, market place & harbour area. The role of art in the development

  • Defining preliminary suggestions for the role of public art in the area

  • (as part of a team at Ramboll)

2013 - 2014    General planning of the Tampere Tram Network - Land Use / City of Tampere

  • the infill development of the new area plan regions

  • (as part of a team at Ramboll)

2012 - 2013    Idea Plan of the Temppelivuori Harbour / City of Raisio

  • Drafting the infill development and the visual quality of the harbor area

  • (as part of a team at Ramboll)

texts and publications

2017        Wall painting project lead trough (in Finnish) 

An article in Kuntatekniikka -magazine about a wall painting project where I worked as a coordinator / faclilitator for the City of Espoo, at Public Art Agency Finland. Find the pdf (in Finnish) here.

2016        Art as part of urban Planning, article

I wrote an article for a guide book on public art, a project that was part of a state funded project to promote the use of public art. The article deals with integrating art into urban planning projects. Please find the article here, and the whole book here (both in Finnish).

2015        Artists role in a street design team - new possibilities, interview

I was interviewed for the guide book on public art, a project that was part of a state funded project to promote the use of public art. Please find the interview here, and the whole book here (both in Finnish).

2014        Infrastructure - Art - Infrastructure -a dictionary, masters thesis in Architecture

My masters thesis in architecture dealt with the collaboration of artists and the urban design field. Please find an english summary here, and the whole book (in Finnish) here.

2013        Architecture in Tampere, a series of architectural guide maps

I was responsible for the conceptual and graphic design, as well as the production of the maps introducing local architecture. Please find photos and more info here.

For most recent writings, go to my blog.

PUBLIC TALKS

I have talked about my work in events and seminars invited by the following:

2017        SAFA Association of Finnish Architects

2017        Arts Promotion Centre Finland

2016        The Artists’ Association of Finland

2016        Aalto University

2016        Future Cities Laborarory Singapore / Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich

EXHIBITIONS and public art projects

2018        Public Art in NYC / research residency - Residency Unlimited, New York City, USA

2018        Seven Steps to Save the Ocean / Large scale environmental artwork inside Ranua Wildlife Park, Lapland, Finland

2016        PeilikirkasMirror Clear, Otavalankatu, Tampere, Finland  / public artwork

2016        Public Art: Important, Boring, ______? / research residency and art event - Instinc Residency - Singapore

2016        Koskettavin veistos - A most touchable sculpture / group exhibition, Sanomatalo & Art Kaarisilta, Helsinki, Finland 

2016        Vieraita tuttuja - familiar strangers / a solo exhibition, Ti-La, Jyväskylä 

2015 - 2016    Artist in a street design team - a pilot project / commissioned work, City of Tampere, Foundation of Environmental Art

2014        Lilies, Play, and Light - designs for sewer covers / commissioned work, City of Tampere

2013       Let’sOpenTourismForUS  /  architectural workshop and competition on accessibility - 2nd prize / St. Denis, Reunion Island, France

2011        Borderlines / group exhibition, Gallery Muro, Geneve, Switzerland, 

2011        Borderlines group exhibition, Gallery Emil, Tampere, Finland 

2011        Ars Kärsämäki group exhibition, Kärsämäki, Finland

2011        House Games group exhibition, Jyväskylä, Finland

2011        Work-play-work solo exhibition, 00130Gallery Project Room, Helsinki, Finland

2010        Human | Culture / group exhibition, theme year of interactive art, Imatra, Finland

2010        Home invited group exhibition, Haihara Art Center, Tampere, Finland

2010        Robinson et Vendredi à Berlin, invited group exhibition, Skulpturenpark Berlin Zentrum, Berlin, Germany

2010        I’m pretty sure I need this, solo exhibition,  Ikuinen Gallery, Tampere, Finland

2009        D’iles et d’Ídentities, invited group exhibition, LIYH, Genève, Sveitsi

2009        ArtVeturit / group exhibition in an old train hall, Tampere, Finland

2008        Forces of Light, Festival of public art, Helsinki, Finland

Memberships

Association of Finnish Sculptors

Finnish Society of Urban Planning

Association of Artists Tampere 

Rajataide Art Association (VP 2012)


My sincere thanks for supporting my work to:

Arts Promotion Centre Finland, Greta ja William Lehtisen Säätiö (The foundation of Greta and William Lehtinen), The Finnish Cultural Foundation / Pirkanmaa Regional Fund, Oskar Öflunds Foundation, Foundation for Environmental Art, and the Foundation on the Tampere University of Technology