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 Alajärvi

The city of Alajärvi in the Southern Ostrobothnia is located close to Alvar Aalto’s childhood hometown Kuortane. Aalto spent his childhood summers in Alajärvi and later had his own summer house there up to 1940s. For him Alajärvi represented leisure time with family and relatives in contrast to the hectic work at the office with all the assignments and architecture competitions. Later Aalto reminisced the place and called it his spiritual home.

In the scenic Alajärvi one can see buildings from the long span of Aalto’s career, from the earliest assignments to the last of his office. At the Alajärvi Administrative and Cultural Centre there are 11 locations, including the recently renovated Villa Väinölä, a home Aalto designed for his brother.

By the lake in Alajärvi there is the Alajärvi Church (1836), designed by the famous architect C.L. Engel. Aalto used to have a seat in the church loft in his youth. In the beautiful churchyard you can see e.g. war
memorials designed by Alvar Aalto and the Aalto family grave.

The Administrative and Cultural Centre in Alajärvi consists of two municipal offices, the Parish Centre, Youth Association building, the former Municipal Hospital, a Health Station, Villa Väinölä and the City Library, which was finished by the architect studio of Aalto.

In addition there are the three memorials and the summer house Villa Flora, that Aalto designed for him and his wife Aino Aalto. Today Villa Flora is under private ownership.

The lobby of the Alajärvi town hall houses Muodon Vuoksi, an exhibition of the classic 1930s glass design of Alvar and Aino Aalto. Alajärvi was a town dear to Aalto and he put his heart and soul into the local projects. The countryside was his retreat during the busy creative years.

Nelimarkka museum

The Nelimarkka Museum in Alajärvi was founded by the painter and professor Eero Nelimarkka (1891-1977) in 1964. The building was designed by his friend, the architect Hilding Ekelund. Since 1995 it has functioned as the Regional Art Museum of Southern Ostrobothnia. It focuses on displaying regional Ostrobothnian art but art education also plays an important role.

Temporary exhibitions, workshops and events for visitors of all ages are organized regularly. Since the mid-1980s the museum has also provided an international residency program for artists.

In summertime you can enjoy coffee and cake in the light atmosphere of Café de Nelimarkka. The museum shop is open year-round. You can book a customized tour or workshop at the museum. Nelimarkka museum maintains the near-by Villa Nelimarkka and Villa Väinölä, located in the centre of Alajärvi. Nelimarkka Museum is open all year round.

Seinäjoki Civic Centre

As an architectural whole, the Seinäjoki Civic Centre, or Administrative and Cultural Centre of Seinäjoki, is unique on a global scale. Seinäjoki is also the location of the Defence Corps Building built in 1924-26, one of the rare works from Aalto’s youth. The Administrative and Cultural Centre consists of six buildings and the Civic Square completed in 1988.

Aalto Centre

The Administrative and Cultural Centre in Seinäjoki emerged from two architectural competitions, and it was built in 1958 to 1988.

Alvar Aalto won a church architecture competition arranged by the Parish of Seinäjoki with his plan “Lakeuksien risti”, Cross of the Plains, in 1951. Seven years later, he won the design competition for the centre of Seinäjoki. Aalto was commissioned to design the town hall, library, theatre and government office building, all of which he had outlined in his competition suggestion.

Aalto’s architectural office designed not only the buildings of the Administrative and Cultural Centre but also the outdoor lighting fixtures, barriers, surface materials for yard areas and plants for the Centre.

Civic Square in Seinäjoki

Alvar Aalto’s plans for the centre of Seinäjoki were based on monumental but easily approachable squares and other open areas between public buildings. When Aalto was young, he admired the antique cultures, and this is reflected as a forum which was also influenced by the Italian piazzas.

The buildings around the Civic Square in Seinäjoki – the Town hall, Library and Seinäjoki theatre – border the square paved with granite paving and cobblestone. According to Aalto’s suggestion, the square was designed for conferences and summer meetings, and of course as a meeting place of citizens. Alvar Aalto wished that squares intended for the assembly of people would promote a “new renaissance” for the forming and exchange of opinions through social interaction.

The Aalto Centre was built gradually. The last part to be completed was the Civic Square with its fountain and plantings. The paving of the square continues on the eastern side across the street, linking the administrative and cultural buildings to the church buildings. This constitutes an overall work of art of six buildings and the square.

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.

Tehtaanmäki residential district and school in Inkeroinen, Kouvola

The buildings in Tehtaanmäki district designed by Aalto date from 1937 to 1956. These buildings include industrial buildings, Rantalinja semi-detached houses, Tervalinja terraced houses, three single-family houses, three housing blocks, Tehtaanmäki Primary School and Karhunkangas single-family houses.

At the end of the 1930s, Tampella Co. established the Anjala Paper Mill in Inkeroinen and built the mill (1937 to 1938) and also houses for the workers, technical management and foremen. Alvar Aalto designed several industrial buildings, various residential houses and modifications and expansions to the existing buildings. The paper mill was modernised in the 1980s, and Stora Enso acquired Tampella’s mill in 1993.

Aalto drew up modification plans for the entrance of the head office of the mill, for the layout plan and for the adjacent house manager’s house. Many of the residential buildings in the industrial area were completed in 1938, and the Tehtaanmäki Primary School was built in 1938-39. 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.

In their own time, the buildings designed by Aalto were modern and up-to-date. Design had to fulfil its purpose rationally and in an economically viable manner. Aalto appreciated technology in the service of people, as an enabler of better housing conditions. For Alvar Aalto, architecture was not something that could be copied universally from one place to another, but instead, design took place on the terms of the terrain and landscape of the area. The buildings were embedded in the scenery, and the natural environment could stay close by.

The Inkeroinen project is associated with the construction of the Sunila Sulphate Pulp Mill and housing area, which Aalto had designed a little earlier, when Tampella, part of the industrial conglomerate, became convinced of the design capability of Aalto’s architectural office. Sunila was built on virgin ground, while Inkeroinen was adapted to the existing buildings both in terms of housing and industrial production.

In Inkeroinen, the social hierarchy was reflected in the house types and building style. The technical management were built single-family houses, with the Chief Engineering Manager’s house being the biggest. Foremen lived in semi-detached houses and workers in terraced houses and housing blocks. In the spirit of social responsibility and equality of modernism, the goal was to provide all with good living conditions. As an example, the Tervalinja and Rantalinja houses had a supply of hot water.

There were two public saunas in the Tehtaanmäki area, and a public sauna was also built in the Karhunkangas residential area of single-family houses. The goal was to give the apartments a view of the natural environment, and the gardens and outdoor decks were to serve as a continuation of the interior. People were also supposed to be able to live freely and independently.

The River Kymijoki has shaped the history of the entire Kymenlaakso region and given rise to a number of cultural environments related to agriculture, industry, houses and built-up areas. Sawmills and wood-processing plants were established beside hydropower sources and waterways.

Large-scale enterprises in the wood-processing industry promoted the growth of towns, readjusted the business structure and had an impact on the formation of social communities. The landscape characteristic of an industrial area comprised the mill with its smoke stack, and the villas of the mill management and the housing areas of the workers were erected around the mill itself.

The wood-processing industry in Anjala and Inkeroinen originated from Ankkapurha, or the large rapids. The old board mill now serves as the Ankkapurha Industrial Museum, which displays the first continuous board machine in Finland acquired for Inkeroinen in 1897.

The various historical strata of the paper and board mills in Inkeroinen are manifested in the different phases of construction. The oldest buildings in the area are the red-brick mill buildings and traditional wooden residential houses from the late 19th century. The board mill (1887) designed the a​rchitect A.M. Hedbäck is the oldest building, and its interior has been preserved close to original. There are two club buildings: one is a former school built in the mid-1890s and the other built in 1892 was originally in residential use. The Church of Inkeroinen designed by B. Federley was finished in 1910, and the hydroelectric plant designed by S. Frosterus and O. Gripenberg was built in 1921 to 1922.

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.

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.