Oulu2026 Cultural Personality: Valentino Tignanelli


Picture: Vilma Töyräs

Our culture personality of the week is Valentino Tignanelli. He is a designer and architect. Valentino came to Oulu to study some years ago, graduated as an architect and now living between here and Europe. He got to know Oulu when he saw Peter Von Bagh´s movie Muisteja(2013) and its visual depiction of the city landscape and post industrial atmosphere heavily influenced his decision to pick Oulu over other parts of the world when he was choosing a place to do my Masters.

What projects are you working on now?

My main job in Oulu is being Project Manager, Designer and Cultural Producer for the Aalto Siilo: the process of renovation of the Alvar Aalto designed Meri-Toppila Silo into a climate change action audiovisual center.

The project is being carried on by the Factum Foundation, one of the most important archive conservation technologies organizations in the world, based in Madrid, with designs and plans by lead architect Charlotte Skene Catling from Skene Catling De La Peña studio,London. In September 2022, in collaboration with Oulu 2026 we organized our first event, called “Farewell to the hoppers”. More than a thousand people came to Meri-Toppila to enjoy a site-specific audiovisual production of several local artists that used the building as an urban-scaled music instrument.

Also, as a freelancer I am working on different design(graphic, industrial, audiovisual and architectural) related projects in Finland and Europe. For example, the last semester I designed a restaurant in Nice, France, worked in the production of a music video in Liguria, Italy for a Helsinki based creative agency and for a local Oulu business carried on a series of design studies for floating saunas. Design is a question of scale, not of format!

What does Culture Climate Change mean to you?

As in any new era of economic development, there is a correspondence between how the industrial activities are carried on and the way this is depicted in cultural productions. We now live in a world that knows about their resource limits and the impact of our economic system upon the earth as a whole, there is no way to negotiate that and culture is the natural vehicle to express this population’s concern. I think that Cultural Climate Change means to go beyond the pointing out of this problem and to embrace creative solutions in our daily life: creating an actual culture of sustainability, and not just responses in fear of armageddon-styled-catastrophic outcomes. Design practices can help a lot in inspiring society in the path to achievable sustainability, with real, coherent and organized actions displayed in different layers, scales, shapes, sizes, materials and sounds… and all that’s new and innovative.

What do you think about Oulu and North Finland?

Oulu is a frontier town. A fast growing urban sprawl, with an ambitious economic-political class and an important geographic location. There is a lot of empty space, both physically in the city plot, land and empty old buildings and in its different areas of business, management and culture. Historically, the city was always the gateway to the Northern parts of Scandinavia, and still is one of the most important cities just below the Arctic Circle. The future of the Arctic will realign the economic supply lines of several continents in the forthcoming years. North Finland is at the doorstep of this unstoppable movement of the human experience, and if in the following years Oulu can keep producing livable opportunities for International, Local and Regional talents to contribute to its growth the city could develop into an important global player.

How does Oulu look like to you in 2026?

I wish to see the city carry on a policy of re-use of old factories, warehouses and similar buildings. The number of empty, good quality, structures is astonishing. There is a tendency to tear down stuff and build brand new things. This must be stopped as it is one of the major contributions to climate change. I hope to see in the following years a change of attitude towards this, as construction is a mother business that affects all layers of the economic structure and will definitely change culture and the way we display and host activities around town. In addition, culture belongs to everybody and not only events in the center, places like Toppila, Tuira and other adjacent neighborhoods need to be an active part of the 2026 celebrations, with specific community projects and public space interventions.

If you think of Oulu and its region as a visitor, what would you like to experience while here?

Salmon Soup in Kauppahalli, coffee in Puistola, drinks at Sarkka, winter sunset in Pikisaari or summer sunrise in Ainolanpuisto.

What does culture mean to you?

Culture is the collective soul of society.

How do you spend your free-time?

I run and see friends and sometimes I run to see friends.

Friendly inquiry:

Your favorite season?

The one with first and last snow, whenever it comes and goes.

How about favorite food?

Pasta with any stuff from the sea.

Favorite place in Oulu?

Toppila river shore, Meri-Toppila´s post industrial alleys and any Kaurismäki-ish Iskelmä filled ambient dim lighted bars around town.

Would you go on vacation to the northern fells or the warmth of the south?

I like to see the sea, walk on little rocky islands, hear the Mediterranean blow and listen to the sound of cutlery clashing in busy canteens.

Chocolate or licorice?

Licorice filled Fazer chocolate balls

What is the last book you read?

Finished the A History of the world in 100 objects, by Neil Macgregor and The story of work by Jan Lucassen at the same time.

Aaltosiilo is part of Oulu2026-cultural progamme where Finnish architect Alvar Aalto meets 3D tecjnology and cultural heritage. The aim is to restore the industrial buildung into a world-class research and visitor centre – where culture and science meet. Aalto´s innovative cathedral-like concrete sturcture – The Toppila Pulp Mills´s wood chip silo – will become a multi-purpose exhibition anad performance space for the public. This building is located in the heart of a culturally deprived area in Oulu. AALTOSIILO will eork to highlight the importance of the industrial architecture of the north and the impact that industry has had on the environment. Read more about Oulu2026 -cultural programme

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