Aalto masterpieces at the Ahlström’s Noormarkku and Kauttua Works

Get to discover the collaboration between Ahlström Ironworks and Alvar Aalto, which resulted in these architectural masterpieces surrounded by pine forests. These buildings receive visitors from every corner of the world!

Get to learn about architecture and lifestyle in the Ahlström’s Works sites designed by Alvar Aalto. In Noormarkku you will get acquainted with the sophisticated Villa Mairea, while in Kauttua you will explore the Terraced House and the Riverside sauna.

Human scale and a healthy lifestyle are an integral part of the architecture of the Kauttua Works area. Here, the visitor is presented with a diverse selection of architectural designs by Aalto. You can start your tour at the famous Terraced House, where you can explore an apartment furnished with Artek interiors. On a guided walking tour, you will also visit the Riverside sauna: the location of the public sauna and laundry for the Ahlström workers, designed jointly by Aino and Alvar Aalto. All around, you will spot several other architectures by Aalto, including the civil servants’ residence and standard housing on the Varkaudenmäki hill.

The visit to the Terraced House also offers the possibility to purchase the vintage Artek pieces on display, while the Riverside sauna also hosts a design shop that features secondhand items as well as new Finnish and Scandinavian design models!

From Kauttua, the tour continues towards Noormarkku Works. The world-famous Villa Mairea is located in Noormarkku, where it stands surrounded by a pine forest. Aino and Alvar Aalto designed Villa Mairea as a home for their friends Maire and Harry Gullichsen; the villa is still partly in private use by the Gullichsen family. On the inside, the beautiful original interiors designed by Aino Aalto are further enrichened by a significant international art collection.

While on the guided tour of the Works, you will also get to explore the Ahlström Voyage -exhibition, and the Makkarakoski sawmill museum.

Aalto sites in Kouvola

Alvar Aalto’s most prominent works in Kouvola are located in Inkeroinen within the area of the Ankkapurha Culture Park. The buildings designed by Aalto in Tehtaanmäki, Inkeroinen date back to 1937 to 1956. These include the industrial buildings of the Anjala Paper Mill and the Tampella Co. Housing Area, including Rantalinja semi-detached houses, Tervalinja terraced houses, three engineering personnel houses and housing blocks for the workers of the mill. While in Kouvola, also make sure to check the Kasarminmäki gateposts, which the young architect designed for the garrison area when he was doing his military service.

The area is complemented by the Tehtaanmäki Primary School finished in 1940 and the Karhunkangas housing area of single-family homes, where most of the residential buildings were completed in 1938. The Tehtaanmäki Primary School is the only elementary school designed by Alvar Aalto that is still in its original use. The town plan designed by Aalto in 1937 covered the entire centre of Inkeroinen, but only the Karhunkangas area and the area adjacent to the mill were ever implemented.

The centre of Kouvola is also an interesting attraction to architecture enthusiasts. The administrative centre of Kouvola representing modernism is a nationally significant built cultural environment catalogued by the National Board of Antiquities. The Town Hall of Kouvola (Bertel Saarnio, Juha Leiviskä, 1964 to 1968, 1969) is an outstanding work of modern architecture classified by the international DOCOMOMO organisation.

The renovated pedestrian street Manski with its shops and cafeterias beckons you to have a cup of coffee and a rest. Those craving for culture make their way to explore the high-standard exhibitions of the Kouvola Art Museum belonging to the Poikilo Museums, and the museum building flooded with light.

Homes and habitats by Alvar Aalto

Villa Mairea in Noormarkku, Kauttua Terraced house and Paimio Sanatorium remain as homes, where everyday life merges with architecture and iconic design furniture. Well-being stems from the pine forests and riverside sauna. Set out to experience living as envisioned by Alvar Aalto!

This tour in the South West Finland takes you back in time and presents you the masterpieces of modern architecture. At the Paimio Sanatorium you can learn about Aalto’s modernist ideas healthy environments, at Kauttua you can see the Terraced house, that Aalto designed for residential use.

Villa Mairea presents you the beautiful private home of timeless decor. In the historical Noormarkku and Kauttua Works of the Ahlström company you can enjoy the picturesque milieu and learn about the history of Finnish woodworking industry.

Delicious lunch and dinner are served at authentic locations. There is also a possibility to bathe in the riverside sauna, a building designed by Aalto.

Tour of Eura – from prehistory to Alvar Aalto

The day starts with a visit to Euran Pirtti, the building of the local youth association in Eura, designed by Jalmari Karhula. At Euran Pirtti, we have morning coffee with the delicious Euran rinkilä doughnuts, which have been selected for the list of living Finnish heritage.

The tour continues to “Naurava lohikäärme”, or Laughing Dragon, which is a guidance centre in prehistory, housed in an old stone cowhouse. A guide presents the prehistory of Eura, especially the region’s rich Viking era. You can try prehistoric handicrafts and guess the weight of a copy of a Viking sword. In the shop of Laughing Dragon, you can buy products that are based on the abundant ancient prehistoric finds made in Eura.

We continue by bus with the guide towards the Luistari Ancient Park, which is one of the most important areas for prehistoric relics in Finland. More than 1300 Iron Age graves have been studied at Luistari. In the summer, there is a photography exhibition of the excavations in the area.

After the guided tour, we continue with the guide to Kauttua Ruukinpuisto Works and have lunch at Kauttua Manor, which is the main building of the ironworks from 1802.

The day continues after lunch with a guided walking tour or bus tour in Kauttua Ruukinpuisto Works. Here we get to know the buildings in the industrial environment: the old residential buildings from the times of the ironworks and the Visitor Centre. After this, we will learn about the influence of Alvar Aalto at Ruukinpuisto. We will visit the Terraced House and its apartment exhibition where architecture, interior decoration and art meet each other. At the end of the day, the tour includes visits to the other Aalto attractions such as the Riverside Sauna, which was originally built for the workers. The building now houses a cafeteria and a design shop. Afternoon coffee is served at the Riverside Sauna.

You can also stay overnight in Villa Aalto, designed by Alvar Aalto, located in the Kauttua Ironworks area. Originally, it served as a dormitory for female clerks.

Sunila Sulphate Pulp Mill and Residential Area

The Sunila pulp mill and the adjoining residential area designed by Alvar Aalto are masterpieces of modern architecture. The pulp mill was said to be the most beautiful in the world and it was presented at the World’s Fair of Paris in 1937 and of New York in 1939. The mill or the head office with the original interior designed by Aino Aalto unfortunately cannot be visited.

The Sunila project (1936–38, 1947, 1951–54) is the largest that was completed according to the original plans of Aalto. Sunila is located on the estuary of river Kymi, by the Gulf of Finland. The residential area is spacious and close to nature, the houses blend in the pine trees and green fields. In addition to the 12 terraced houses and apartment buildings there is the manager’s residence Kantola, a sauna by the sea and several maintenance buildings. The Sunila residential area is protected by law due to its architectural values.

Read more: Experience the Alvar Aalto cycling route in Kotka and Hamina

One of the largest industry investments of its time

Sunila is the most extensive project realised closely according to Aalto’s plans. The area is considered to be a culturally valuable built environment and the regulations in the detailed regional plan guarantees the architectural conservation.

The southeastern Finland industrialized rapidly when several sawmills were built on river Kymi from the 1870s onwards. In the economic boom of the mid-thirties five companies within the paper industry decided to start together a new sulphate cellulose mill in Sunila. There was also a need for housing for the employees of the new company.

One of the five companies cooperating in the pulp mill project was Ahlström, whose manager, Harry Gullichsen, was a friend of the architect Alvar Aalto. Gullichsen was also chairman of the board of the Sunila Company and thus influential in appointing Aalto for the project. At that time Aalto had already gained international fame. The Aalto-Gullichsen friendship evolved around a common interest in modern ideas about architecture, art, technology and social progress. Lauri Kanto, the technical manager at the nearby Halla pulp mill, was appointed leader of the planning team, with Aulis Kairamo as chief engineer. These four men worked in unison to build an industrial community with state-of-the-art technology, housing and social facilities. The building of the mill began in 1936, the residential area in 1937 and pulp production started in 1938.

Sunila, the first “Forest Town” in Finland was a model for planning the housing in the post-war Finland. Until the 1960s Sunila was as a traditional and hierarchical industrial community, yet a modern neighbourhood with welfare services. The company took care of its employees for instance by offering health insurance fund and enabling sport activities. The rowing team of the local sport club Sunilan Sisu won the bronze medal at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics.

The Sunila town plan is based on the free placement of buildings and the interaction between the built and the natural environment. The arrangement of buildings is fan-shaped, so that there is a landscape view from every apartment. The surrounding nature is lush and barren at the same time, characterized by pines.

Go east from Helsinki and visit the Kotka – Hamina region!

The Kotka – Hamina region is situated on the southeast coast of Finland, only 1 hour drive from Helsinki. The cities of Kotka and Hamina and the towns nearby are attractive seaside destinations with relaxed lifestyle and maritime culture. See the interesting exhibitions of the Maritime Centre Vellamo, explore the history outdoors in the Salpa defence line and the former military zone islands. Enjoy the river Kymi, the seaside nature and urban gardens, visit the beautiful churches and other sights. Experience authentic landscapes and historical milieus. We know all this sounds a bit too much to take, but hey, we recommend to stay a little longer with us!

Read more: Visit Kotka-Hamina

Alvar Aalto in Helsinki

The maritime Helsinki is the biggest city in Finland and home for several buildings designed by Alvar Aalto. It also contains a wide range of other Finnish architecture from different centuries and decades.

Born in the small rural municipality of Kuortane, Alvar Aalto graduated as an architect in 1921 from the Technical University of Helsinki. In 1923, he established his first office in Jyväskylä, carrying the grandiose name “Arkkitehtuuri-ja monumentaalitaiteen toimisto” (Office of Architectural and Monumental Art). The office first moved to Turku and from there ultimately to Helsinki in the early 1930s.

Earlier in his career, Aalto had participated in several major architectural competitions in Helsinki, such as for the Parliament building and Olympic Stadium.

Designed in tandem with his wife Aino Aalto, also an architect, the family’s home was completed in Munkkiniemi in Helsinki in 1936. At that time, the Munkkiniemi area was not yet officially a part of Helsinki. The Aalto house now serving as a home museum was also designed to have a studio wing for use by the architectural office. Aalto knew the area well: as an example, in the early 1930s he designed a residential area (which never materialised) for the M.G. Stenius company in Munkkiniemi. The housing area designed for the employees of the National Pensions Institute were, in turn, completed in Munkkiniemi in 1954.

A new building was built in 1955 in Munkkiniemi near Aalto’s home to serve the needs of the expanding architectural office. Alvar Aalto’s studio is now the head office of the Alvar Aalto Foundation and a popular attraction among architectural travellers.

Several buildings designed by Alvar Aalto have been erected in the Helsinki region over the years. The head office of the National Pensions Institute and Enso-Gutzeit Co. Headquarters with their interiors were designed with great care down to the minutest detail for the needs of demanding clients. The centre of Helsinki houses buildings open to the public, such as the Rautatalo Office Building and the Academic Bookstore as well as Restaurant Savoy, which has kept its original interior from 1937 designed jointly by Aino and Alvar Aalto.

The House of Culture was completed near the centre of Helsinki in 1958. You can get to explore this building with a rich history and still used for versatile concerts and other cultural events during guided tours.

In 1959, the City Executive Board of Helsinki commissioned Alvar Aalto to draw up a plan for the central Kamppi-Töölönlahti area. Aalto outlined a new monumental centre for Helsinki, but ultimately only a small portion of the plans were brought to fruition – the Finlandia Hall is the only building of the row of cultural buildings planned along the Töölönlahti bay that was ever built.

The Finlandia Hall was designed as a conference and concert venue, and it is one of the last buildings designed by Aalto’s office. The Finlandia Hall was designed in 1967 to 1971 and 1973 to 1975. Alvar Aalto died in 1976, soon after the Finlandia Hall was ready. This building can be visited on guided tours and in conjunction with various events.

Villa Mairea and Ahlström’s Noormarkku Works in Pori

Ahlström’s Noormarkku Works area is one of the largest and most impressive old engineering works areas in Finland, with the visitors having an opportunity to absorb the atmosphere of bygone industrial times. The area houses a high-standard restaurant and hotel, with elegant accommodation for up to 60 guests. The club restaurant offers local and wild food as well as game hunted under the instruction of the game warden. Guided tours are arranged in the dignified cultural surroundings. In addition to the Sawmill Museum and Ahlström Voyage exhibition, travellers can visit (upon advance reservation) Villa Mairea, probably the highlight of the design career of Alvar and Aino Aalto.

Villa Mairea

Located within the Noormarkku Works area, Villa Mairea was built in 1939 to serve as the home of Maire (née Ahlström) and Harry Gullichsen. The progressive couple were patrons of the arts, and they were interested in the clean-cut expression of modernism. Their good friends, the architects Aino and Alvar Aalto, had an opportunity to apply free and experimental design in the planning of Villa Mairea.

These favourable circumstances gave rise to a unique work of art, which is currently considered an international masterpiece in 20th century architecture. Interior design for Villa Mairea was in the hands of Aino Aalto.

Through the life’s work of Maire Gullichsen, Villa Mairea is linked in many ways to the arts institutions and design sector of Finland, for example to the furniture business Artek and Galerie Artek, Free Art School and Pori Art Museum. She played a decisive role in the establishment of all of these.

Villa Mairea is only open to visitors by advance reservation.

Villa Mairea

A. Ahlström Osakeyhtiö in the hub of Finnish industrial history

A. Ahlström Kiinteistöt Oy has received awards for keeping and maintaining the Noormarkku and Kauttua Works areas, which hold cultural history value.

The award-winning Ahlström Voyage exhibition housed in the old smithery describes Finnish industrial history over the past 160 years. The exhibition presents iconic glass art from the collections of the Iittala, Karhula and Riihimäki glass factories, such as unique specimens of the Savoy vase, an impressive collection of Tapio Wirkkala’s production and Timo Sarpaneva’s Orkidea. There is also information on the friendship and co-operation between the Aalto and Gullichsen families.

The forests and land and water areas owned by Ahlström are in a pristine condition. Guided full-service fishing and canoe safaris as well as hunting events of small and large game for groups are arranged in these areas. The nature trail in the forest adjacent to the Noormarkku Works area is available to everyone, and there are also guided birdwatching trips.

The Koli sauna includes a range of various types of saunas such as chimneyless sauna and wooden sauna as well as an outdoor hot tub beside the River Noormarkunjoki.

Noormarkku works

Pori Art Museum and Jusélius Mausoleum

Pori Art Museum is a museum of contemporary art, built around the collection of Maire Gullichsen in 1981. The museum presents the latest trends in Finnish and international art.

Constructivism, Fluxus and trends in land and conceptual art have paved the way for exploring new phenomena. The collections and archives of the museum that serves as the regional art museum of Satakunta focus on modernism and newer art.

The National Urban Park of Pori houses one of the most famous sights in Pori at the Käppärä cemetery: Jusélius Mausoleum. The building of the mausoleum was commissioned by the industrialist Fritz Arthur Jusélius as the final resting place of her daughter Sigrid, who died of
tuberculosis at the age of 11.

The mausoleum is of the neo-gothic architectural style, and its original frescos painted by Akseli Gallen-Kallela, the foremost representative of the nationalist romanticist style in Finland, were destroyed in the early 20th century. By 1925, the frescos had been replaced by a bronze relief by the sculptor Emil Cedercreutz. The current frescos were painted in 1933 to 1939 by the artist Jorma Gallen-Kallela after sketches drawn up by his father Akseli Gallen-Kallela.

Visit Pori

Pori Art Museum

Kauttua Ironworks in Eura

The Terraced House at the Kauttua Works in Eura is a vivid example of the desire of the architect to integrate the building into the natural environment: the multi-storey residential building adapts to the slope, so the entrance of each apartment is on ground level. Completed in 1938, the Terraced House in Kauttua is one of Alvar Aalto’s most prominent works also internationally. It was an ordered assignment, and intended as the dwelling for the senior clerical employees of Ahlström Osakeyhtiö Corporation. The assignment also stemmed from Alvar Aalto’s friendship with the company’s CEO Harry Gullichsen and his wife Maire Gullichsen.

Architecture, interior design and art come together in the Terraced House, where one apartment is open to the public. This apartment of the Terraced House hosts changing exhibitions, and the furniture in the sales exhibition changes occasionally – there are plenty of new things to see and experience! The apartment is furnished with old Artek furniture and lighting fixtures, and some of the items are for sale.

Other attractions in Kauttua include the sauna and laundry building, residential building of clerical female employees, Chief Engineering Manager’s house and several standardized houses, which were also developed further by other architects.

Aalto’s Riverside Sauna in Eura is one of a kind – the visitor can enjoy design furniture, Finnish sauna and delicious home-cooked food. There are relaxing herbal treatments available, you can bathe in the river and in an outdoor hot tub, and the design shop contains an extensive range of Finnish design.

In Kauttua, accommodation is available in Villa Aalto, which is the former residence of female office employees, or in the other cosy rooms of the beautiful Ahlström works area. The region is renowned for its herbs and local food products. In the restaurant, you can enjoy the best recipes of the chef specialised in game dishes. The game is hunted from Ahlström’s own forests.

For visitors, the Kauttua Works and Lake Pyhäjärvi areas are truly an experience beyond compare.

Alvar Aalto in Jyväskylä

In Jyväskylä, the city of lakes and hills in the heart of the Finnish Lakeland, you’ll find the largest number of masterful buildings in the whole world designed by the world-famous architect and academician Alvar Aalto.

The impressive portfolio of 28 locations includes, for instance, the Alvar Aalto Museum, Muurame Church and Säynätsalo Town Hall, which is regarded as one of Aalto’s finest works.

Alvar Aalto also went to school, started a family and began his illustrious career in Jyväskylä. The city of Jyväskylä is home to Aalto creations from the very start of his career right through to designs from his final years.

In Jyväskylä you’ll tread in the master’s footsteps from classicism to functionalism and from brick architecture to monumentalism. Jyväskylä offers you a vast selection of guided tours and interesting visits either on foot, by bike or by boat!

Jyväskylä is also perfectly suited for conferences. The city is lively due to the University and it offers a selection of restaurants and venues for all kind of events. The Finnish Lakeland, being the Sauna Region of the World, guarantees various possibilities for groups of all sizes.

One point of interest is the swimming hall designed by Alvar Aalto. Back then it was one of the very first swimming halls in Finland. It was later enlarged and now the AaltoAlvari Aquatic Centre houses sport and spa services, with various pools like rapid and wave pools, a hot tub, a water slide and diving boards.

Located at a hub of excellent connections, Jyväskylä is highly accessible from practically anywhere.

Mill Manager’s Residence Kantola and Seaside Sauna in Sunila

Former mill manager’s house Kantola was built in 1937, and it’s located in the residential area of Sunila, in the city of Kotka. Kantola has its own park-like yard with pine trees and a unique view towards the sea and the Sunila pulp mill. Sunila mill was once told to be the most beautiful mill in the world.

Kantola is available for groups to visit all the year round, but the visit must be booked in advance. Events held in Kantola may affect the availability. Kantola’s spaces are also available for meetings and get-togethers, and there is plenty of beautiful and unique space to set up an exhibition or some other event in the main building or the yard. You can use Kantola for small private meetings or bigger events up to 80 people. There is a seaside sauna which is made from logs, with room for 10 people. The view from the sauna’s terrace is wonderful, when looking at the mill’s silhouette and lights against the night sky.