The museum is conceived as a large smokehouse arranged around two landscaped courtyards. Logs are made from glulam beams, notched and stacked to form a structural exterior wall. A limit on the maximum length of beam requires a notched corner every 14 metres or less. This simple tectonic principle creates a gentle stepping and articulation of the notched beams on the exterior that follows the arrangement of spaces within.
At the centre of the building are two stone rooms each facing onto an internal courtyard. These stone rooms are the smokers that provide radiant heat to the surrounding rooms. In place of fire, heat comes from ground source heat exchange which is distributed around the building in warm water pipes. These two stone smokers are the cultural heart of the building providing space for the Auditorium and Library.
The building is arranged around a journey through the 3 landscapes of slash and burn farming. The first smoker (the auditorium) as well as the reception and administration wing are formed around the landscape of the untouched Nordic forest; as it would have been found by the forest Finns as they moved into new territories. The second smoker (the library) and the exhibition rooms are clustered around a courtyard of black earth and rock. This courtyard represents the burnt landscape as well as the charcoal industry that would later put an end to their livelihood. These two internal courtyards are clad on all four sides by mirrored glass creating the impression of an infinite landscape. The final landscape is set within the last room of the permanent exhibition and looks outward to present-day Norway across a cultivated clearing of seeded grasses. These grasses are the first stage of life after the burning and represent the cultivated landscape of the Finnskog farmstead.