Our new shareholder team consists of CEO and Owner Kiira Halinen, and two architect partners, Noora Laak and Kuutti Halinen.

Kiira Halinen and Noora Laak are former colleagues, and Kiira Halinen and Kuutti Halinen are cousins. All three currently reside in Helsinki.

Kiira Halinen

Kiira Halinen has a strong international background in event production, and marketing and communication. Halinen graduated as a Cultural Analyst from the University of Amsterdam (Research Master of Arts, 2012), where she focused on modern art management. Halinen has also studied art history, and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Visual Culture from the University of Brighton in 2009. She was the Co-Founder of the Fluidi Arts and Culture Association, in which she also operated as the Chairman of the Board and Head of Administration. Halinen has produced cultural visits at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was responsible for Jätkäsaari’s urban planning exhibition space and its operations as part of the Helsinki City Office’s communication team and Helsinki City Planning Department, and worked as a marketing and communications expert for a large Nordic security group, focusing especially on brand and responsibility issues. On the financial side, Halinen has worked for Amex and Visa. Halinen has lived in New York, Rome, Berlin, Budapest, Stockholm, Brighton and Amsterdam, so she is very familiar with many cities that are important for Archtours’ operations. Halinen’s hobbies include photography and adventuring in nature.


Noora Laak

Architect Noora Laak works as a zoning planner for the city of Vantaa and as a teacher at Aalto University’s Department of Architecture in the subjects of History of Architecture and Community Planning. Laak’s special interest is the transformation of ideas and ideologies into the built environment, both in ancient Rome and in modern suburbs. From these thoughts, the podcast “Ajatuksia kaupungista”(Thoughts about the City) was founded together with the architect Jussi Ukkonen. In her spare time, Laak enjoys playing football and urban politics.


Kuutti Halinen

Kuutti Halinen is an architect and partner in the award-winning architectural office AOR. In recent years, Halinen has focused on developing school construction and finding ways to promote sustainable construction through modern wooden architecture. Halinen feels that architectural competitions create good conditions for the future of building heritage. In his free time, Halinen enjoys playing guitar in a band.



Photos: Hijran Kiroran


Kiira Halinen and Marianna Heikinheimo

Kiira Halinen started as the CEO and owner of the architecture travel service Archtours

Archtours has established itself as an urban planning and architecture tour expert, producing high-quality program content for over two decades. The company has operated under the Ark-byroo architecture firm, led by founder Marianna Heikinheimo. The continuation of operations with a new owner and shareholder team is a great pleasure, especially after the hiatus caused by the pandemic.

The new shareholder team includes CEO and majority owner Kiira Halinen and two experienced architects. Noora Laak works primarily as a zoning planner for the city of Vantaa and as a part-time teacher at the Aalto University Department of Architecture. Kuutti Halinen is an architect and a partner in the award-winning AOR Architects company.

Kiira Halinen is familiar with Archtours’ operating field, as she previously worked as a producer for the company:

“The transition to CEO is natural. We had already planned reforms for Archtours’ operations before the pandemic, so the groundwork has been carefully laid. Our customers expect high-quality program content, expert guidance and customer service, which will remain at the core of our operations.”

Archtours founder Marianna Heikinheimo is pleased to see the business transition to new hands.

“We have overcome the challenges caused by the pandemic, and there is once again a demand for high-quality travel services. Archtours needs new perspectives and enthusiasm to continue to develop, which is why the change of ownership felt like a natural step to take now.

Kiira Halinen is an excellent choice as the new CEO. Her strengths lie in her international background and solid expertise in event production. I am proud of our achievements and look forward to new initiatives with Archtours. I am also ready to support the new team during this transition phase.”


Noora Laak, Kiira Halinen and Kuutti Halinen


Archtours is an urban planning and architecture tours expert, producing high-quality program content and guidance on architecture, construction, and urban planning. Our clients consist of urban planners, architects, developers, and municipal officials – both Finnish and international.

The contents of our travel services are developed in collaboration with the client and a local architectural guide, according to the wishes of the customer group. The programs consist of meetings with local professionals in the destination city and company and building visits, with expert guidance from the local architect.

Archtours’ guides are local architects who work in destination cities as designers and researchers, among other roles. Archtours’ network covers dozens of cities and architect guides in many guiding languages.


Kiira Halinen holds a Research Masters Degree in Cultural Analysis and has a solid international background in event production and marketing. She co-founded and ran the administration of the Fluidi Arts and Culture Association. She has managed cultural visits at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the City Hall of Helsinki, produced exhibitions, and worked as a communications expert in the finance and security sectors.



Text: Maaret Tiensuu & Salla Heijari/Ark-byroo, photos: Hijran Kiroran


Photo by

One of the most exciting new destinations on the architecture and urban expansion scene is Trondheim, located on the river Nidelva. With a population of 193,000, of which 30,000 are students, Trondheim is the third largest city in Norway. Originally named Nidaros, the city is more than a 1000 years old, and is now considered the technology capital of Norway, with a vibrant startup scene.

The city was built on a series of docklands and includes an artificial harbour. The docks have been converted into residential waterfront areas, commercial and cultural spaces, and include transportation hubs. It is also home to the largest wooden palace in Scandinavia, the Royal Palace.

One of Trondheim’s 2020 city plan objectives is becoming an internationally known Technology and Knowledge City, which University development and the built environment are a large part of. Sustainability and smart solutions are a very dominant part of the urban landscape.

Trondheim has been on the path of sustainable developments for a while now.  For example, Agraff Arkitekter’s Sparebank was the lowest energy office in the country when it was completed in 2010. The project won Trondheim Municipality’s energy saving award 2011. Another notable development is the NINA (Norwegian Institute for Nature Research) Headquarters by Pir II, winner of the prestigious Wood in Architecture 2013 Award.

One of the newest and most exciting projects in this field is the Powerhouse Brattørkaia, the World’s Northernmost energy-positive building, a collaboration of industry partners Entra, Skanska, ZERO, Snøhetta and Asplan Viak. The building produces over twice as much energy as it consumes daily, which is supplied to the neighbouring buildings, electric buses, cars and boats through a micro grid. The development has received the BREEAM Outstanding Certification, which is the highest possible ranking by the world’s leading sustainability assessment method, taking into consideration the environmental, social and economic performance.

Photo by MDH

The Åsveien school and multi-use hall by Eggen Arkitekter is the municipality’s first school building that meets passive house requirements, completed in 2015. The facility is the pilot project in Future Building with the goal of 50% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions for transport, energy consumption and material use, which was achieved through the commitment to extensive use of wood in load-bearing structures, walls, cladding and ceilings.

Svartlamoen is an interesting experimental ecological building district, full of unique timber housing, ranging from student halls to self-built family homes. Other notable student housing projects are the Moholt Timber Towers, completed by MDH and winner of many sustainability awards, and Teknobyen by MEK Architects, winner of the Trondheim Europan 9 Award, among others.

Trondheim is also known for its wonderful level of local cuisine, as well as historically notable vernacular waterside warehouses.

Interested in learning more? Let us organize a seamless trip for you along with flights, hotel, dining, transportation and an exciting program!

Photo by Simon WIlliams

Text: Producer Kiira Halinen


Corrugated iron used in housing, photo by Archtours
Corrugated iron used in housing, photo by Archtours

Similar to the vibrant Reykjavik, Icelandic architecture is a mixture of different design influences and styles, ranging from the Viking Era and resourceful construction of turf houses to the aesthetic use of corrugated iron, all the way up to modern cultural developments, urban neighbourhoods and skyscrapers. In future plans, the city focuses on densifying, instead of expanding.

Standing by the waterfront, the famous Harpa Concert Hall by Danish architects Henning Larsen was constructed between 2007 and 2011. The notable façade was designed by Olafur Eliasson, the shapes of the glass inspired by the “Gullinfang”-design by the late “mad scientist” architect Einar Þorsteinn Ásgeirsson, a long-time collaborator of Olafur. It is the home of the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra and Opera and serves as a host to many cultural events throughout the year. Harpa has gathered numerous awards for its design and architecture, including the Mies van der Rohe 2013 Award and the Best Nordic Public Space 2011 award.

Harpa, photo by Archtours
Harpa, photo by Archtours

Arguably the most prominent architectural site of Reykjavik is the Hallgrímskirkja Lutheran church. Standing 74.5 meters high, making it the largest church in Iceland. Designed by the state Architect Guðjón Samúelsson, it is an example of Expressionist architecture that took 41 years to build: construction started in 1945 and ended in 1986.

Reykjavik is also home to the Nordic House, designed by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. The Nordic House hosts a variety of Scandinavian- themed cultural events and exhibitions, as well as an art library, since 1968.

Next to it is the Veröld  – House of Vigdis, the Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute of Foreign Languages, which is the newest building of the University of Iceland, inaugurated in April of 2017. Andrúm studio has been nominated for the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award 2019, for their design of Veröld – House of Vigdís.

Veröld – House of Vigdís, photo by Archtours
Veröld – House of Vigdís, photo by Archtours

Other exciting projects include a pair of red pyramid bridges for pedestrian and cycle use over the river Elliðaár by Architects Teiknistofan Tröð, the new Landsbankinn HQ under construction and interesting housing projects, both in small scale and high-rise developments. Reykjavik also offers exciting interior design choices in many of its eccentric restaurants.

We highly recommend spending an extra day in Iceland and experiencing it’s powerful nature; we can organize a day that combines the breathtaking views of Pingvellir National Park, Gullfoss Waterfalls and Geysir hot springs, or the majestic views of the South Iceland Black Sand Beaches and see the basalt columns that inspired much of the Reykjavik architecture. Both can be crowned off with a relaxing visit to the world-famous Blue Lagoon.

Blue Lagoon, photo by Archtours
Blue Lagoon, photo by Archtours

If a full-day seems too much for your schedule, we can also incorporate a few hour boat tour into your program, allowing you to view the Reykjavik cityscape and surrounding nature, and maybe even catch a glimpse of one of the 23 whale species found in the surroundings of the city.

Text: Kiira Halinen, Producer


Hamburg has been a trending spot for our clients in the past few seasons. Besides seeing the world-famous Elbphilharmonie and IBA areas, the city offers an interesting mix of projects, ranging from the new HafenCity developments to urban housing solutions, as well as traffic improvements and waterfront areas.

Ministry of Urban Development and Environment in Wilhelmsburg, photo by Sami Heikinheimo

One of the newest developments in the city is the Niederhafen River Promenade, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects and completed this year, 2019. The 625-metre area serves as a beautiful public space with unrestricted views of the port and the Elbe, as well as a part of the city’s flood protection system. The promenade also incorporates cycling lanes, accessibility through ramps and a restaurant space into the flood protection system.

View from the St.Pauli Fish Market and Park Fiction, photo by Sami Heikinheimo

Another newly opened public space is the Baakenpark in HafenCity. The 1,6 ha recreational park links the north and south neighbourhoods, creating a multi-use space for families, students and the elderly.

Elbbrücken Underground Station by Linus Rogge

One way the view the growing area is by arriving at the new Elbrücken Underground station, opened December 2018. The design by architect von gmp brings the railway carriage up from below ground, to a stop at the Elbe bridges height level. The development is covered by a glass roof in a crescent moon shape, twisted steel beams creating a diamond-shaped grid, and all in all a great example of architecture and structural engineering.

Text: Kiira Halinen, inspired by Frank Görge


© Archtours

In the summertime, Archtours produces boat tours together with Strömma. Get to know the city from a new perspective, seeing the newest developments and areas under construction along the coast of Helsinki.

Helsinki has over 130 km of shoreline and includes over 300 islands. Shoreline designs must adapt to the different needs of the coast and take into account nature conservation, water management, recreational use and equal treatment of landowners. Special attention must be paid to landscape factors.

© Archtours

New coastline properties are being built constantly in Helsinki. Especially old harbour areas are receiving a breath of fresh air through the construction of new housing, parks and transport connections. The urban infill of neighbourhoods creates new homes and life near the city centre, causing the steadily growing Helsinki to turn into a future metropolis.

On our boat tour a local architect guide will accompany you on a trip to learn more about the new developments in Kalasatama, Kruunuvuorenranta ja Jätkäsaari, among others, as well as guide you in the construction history of Suomenlinna, Vallisaari and Santahamina.



© Archtours

Jätkäsaari is a harbour area in Helsinki that is being converted into a dense urban housing area. It is also home to one of the busiest sea terminals for passengers in Europe. The area exhibits interesting urban development and new innovations of residential architecture in Finland.

The former industrial harbour area is changing rapidly. By the year 2030, plans include homes for at least 18 000 inhabitants and 6 000 workplaces in the Jätkäsaari region. The passenger harbour will remain in the area, providing fast connections to Tallinn, Estonia.

In the Jätkäsaari region one can explore the variety of Finnish and Nordic housing types in just a few blocks’ area, as well as hear about the housing and urban planning policies of the area.

In Jätkäsaari region it is possible to explore the variety of
Finnish and Nordic housing types in just a few blocks’ area.

Malta  (ARK-house architects) is a new cohousing apartment block in Jätkäsaari. It was initiated by a group of private persons who founded an association to run the project. The whole project represents an alternative for the controlled housing production and to the housing policy in the capital area.

“Lace house” (Huttunen-Lipasti-Pakkanen architects) is a recently finished block of council flats in Jätkäsaari. The design is based on winning entry “Light House” from an architecture competition. The aim of the competition was to find a landmark building to the corner of Saukonpaasi square, finishing a long line of city views.  The facade material has given the house a nickname ”Lace house”.

In the area of Jätkäsaari there are many other interesting projects as well, including WoodCity that represents experimental wood construction. Wood is the main material in the new block of offices, apartments and commercial space. Also the Generations Block is a unique concept of multigenerational housing.

Malta house © Archtours
Lace house © Archtours


Explore residential architecture in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is one of the world’s leaders in innovative housing architecture. The growing city becomes denser by building new areas and by infilling former industrial areas. We showcase three interesting residential sights in Amsterdam.

© Archtours

Innovative social housing

Villa Mokum is a home for over 600 students, with both owner-occupied and rental studios. The building is located on the growing area Amstelkwartier, formerly occupied by a water treatment plant. The building won the Amsterdam Nieuwboupris award in 2016. Communal terraces and loggias were added to the voids in the interior corridors to provide light and space. Effectively used special elements were added to break the potentially monotonous rhythms of the facades.


© Archtours

A dense urban sight

The IJDock block is located by the river IJ opposite the EYE film museum. The plan of the IJDock is exceptional: a residential house, designed by the Zeinstra van Gelderen architectural office, forms a sharp triangle in the middle of the rectangular area.

The IJDock area is very rich in architectural details.

© Archtours

Rusty red

NorthOrleans was completed in 2016 and is located in the Amsterdam Noord area. The architecture of NorthOrleans is innovative and of high quality: the balconies of the building are made of corten steel, creating a visually interesting rusty red façade. There are 120 apartments in the building and there are a variety of services provided for the tenants.

The Amsterdam Noord area is developing rapidly. In it’s proximity there are creative offices, as well as an urban food centre.


© Archtours

One of our most popular destinations currently is Milan.

Boasting a rich architectural history and vibrant cultural scene, Milan is a beautiful place to visit also for its many new developments and areas.

Depending on the themes and interests of our clients, we can arrange different kinds of visits, meetings and activities to create the most fitting program.

© Archtours

For example, our groups have had the pleasure of visiting the offices of Park Associati Architects, where they have learned of the methods they implement in their design, as well as hearing more about the many projects they have around Milan and worldwide.

The most common themes of interest in Milan are housing and urban development in dense city areas, such as Portello, CityLife and Porta Nuova, which house developments by offices like Zaha Hadid, Daniel Libeskind and Arata Isozaki.

Outside of the daytime architectural programs, we have also arranged a variety of evening activities, from wine cellar dinners to nights at the famous theatre La Scala.

Schedule permitting, the nearby town of Bergamo hides a breathtakingly picturesque Old City that is a wonderful excursion to add to the program, for example for a weekend getaway.

© Archtours

Many of our groups have also had time to visit the beautiful Prada Foundation, with permanent and changing exhibitions and projects. The Milan venue of Fondazione Prada, by architecture firm OMA led by Rem Koolhaas widens the concept of exhibiting spaces. The old distillery has been renovated and created into a development that combines seven existing buildings with three new structures named Podium, Cinema and Torre, with an overall surface area of 19,000 m2.

© Archtours

The southern location means the warmer weather also allows for trips later in the year, as the average temperature is over 10 degrees Celsius even in November.

© Archtours

Archtours organises high-quality study tours for groups to the most fascinating cities and growing metropolises in the Nordic countries, Europe and other parts of the world. Please contact us for more information: or use our contact form.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Tilaa uutiskirjeemme

Lähetämme sinulle ajankohtaisia kuulumisia ja inspiraatiota opintomatkoihin enintään 6 kertaa vuodessa.

You have Successfully Subscribed!