The architectural competition for the design of the Finnish Forest Museum was announced in November 1990. Architects SAFA Ilmari Lahdelma, Rainer Mahlamäki and Juha Mäki-Jyllilä won the competition with a proposal “Lusto”. The Finnish word “lusto” – a tree’s annual growth ring – symbolises growth as well as reflects the round shape of the building and the layered nature of its structure. “Lusto” was also chosen for the name of the museum.

The competition included a wish that “Finnish wood should be used in one form or another in the building”. At that time, building regulations did not permit the use of wood in large buildings, so Lusto is made of concrete and lined with larch. The solution gave rise to active discussion and as a result of this the regulations were relaxed. Since then, constructing large wooden buildings became possible.

The Lusto building has been elected as a representative of Finnish 20th century modern architecture.

Lahdelma and Mahlamäki also designed the Lusto extension which was completed in two phases in 2005 and 2008.