Alvar Aalto Kymenlaakso Cycling Route

Kymenlaakso is the single region in Finland with the most buildings designed by Alvar Aalto. If Jyväskylä is called the Aalto capital, Kymenlaakso can rightly be called the Aalto region. In total, Kymenlaakso has dozens of buildings designed by Alvar Aalto: detached houses, apartment buildings and blocks of flats, as well as industrial plants.

On the cycle route you can discover Alvar Aalto’s architecture of the 1930s-1950s in Karhula, Sunila, Hamina and Inkeroinen.

Most of the buildings designed by Alvar Aalto were placed freely in the landscape, taking into account the shapes of the terrain. As a result, the connection to nature is a natural continuum for the views of the houses and apartments. Nature, light and their connection to the dwellings were important to Aalto. The overall architectural approach and the typical elements of Aalto’s formal language are repeated in all the Aalto projects in Kymenlaakso.

Aalto succeeded in adapting his buildings to nature and adding both creativity and artistry to their austere simplicity, and even today people are still attracted to Aalto buildings.

A tourist interested in architecture, history and design can easily spend several days exploring the buildings designed by Alvar Aalto, but also stay overnight in apartments designed and decorated in his style.

There are 4 areas on this route with buildings designed by Aalto:

Inkeroinen factory area

The buildings designed by Alvar Aalto for the Inkeroinen Factory Hill were completed between 1937 and 1956. The complex consists of factory buildings, semi-detached houses on the Rantalinja, terraced houses on the Tervalinja, three detached houses, three blocks of flats, a school on the Tehtaanmäki and detached houses on the Karhunkangas.

Hamina Petkele residential area

In Hamina, you can discover the environment of the Summa paper mill designed by Alvar Aalto and the housing designed by him for the paper mill workers and management in the Petkele residential area.

Apartment buildings in Karhula

Alvar Aalto’s design in Karhula is represented by the apartment buildings completed on Karhunkatu between 1945 and 1947, known as the ‘tennis houses’.

Sunila factory and working-class housing area

Alvar Aalto’s handiwork is immediately recognisable from the moment you arrive in the extensive and coherent residential area. The factory, completed in 1938, and the adjacent residential area, originally built between 1937 and 1939, form a whole whose design clearly shows the influence of Alvar Aalto’s 1930s modernism.

For more details and directions see the route in Outdoor Active

By Visit Kotka-Hamina

Villa Mairea and Ahlström Works – cultural and culinary experiences

In Noormarkku, Pori, you’ll experience a comprehensive journey into architecture and design through guided tours of the worldrenowned Villa Mairea and Ahlström’s unique historical industrial area with its museums.

This experience is a feast for the senses, combining culinary delights at Noormarkku Works area with a
journey through history, design, and architecture. Villa Mairea’s aesthetic brilliance is a tribute to Aalto’s
genius as well as the relationship between modern design and natural beauty. In Ahlström’s Noormarkku
works, come and meld culture, architecture, and gastronomy, and ask yourself how architecture can
elevate and redefine the cultural landscape.

Villa Mairea and the Ahlström Ironworks are a harmonious marriage of art, design, and industry. Designed by Alvar and Aino Aalto, Villa Mairea is an architectural gem amidst a pine forest, while the Ironworks area invites you to stroll through a living museum of industrial heritage. Together, they offer a rich cultural experience highlighting the creative synergy of Aalto’s design and Ahlström’s industrial legacy.

Paimio Sanatorium

Paimio Sanatorium, Alvar and Aino Aalto’s international breakthrough design, is one of the most renowned buildings in Finland. Completed in 1933, it is a masterpiece of humane modernism and a true gesamtkunstwerk. Designed as a tuberculosis sanatorium and having served as a general hospital, Paimio Sanatorium has now entered a new era of the philosophy of well-being.

Enclosed by a vast forest of tall pine trees, the iconic site invites you to unwind in its tranquil ambiance. Explore the corridors, sense the luminous light and colors of the Sanatorium as you take a guided tour, discovering the stories of the past. A hike through nature trails or outdoor meditation, Paimio Sanatorium offers the perfect retreat to rejuvenate senses. Lenghten the stay by accommodating on-site, enjoy the local cuisine and various spaces of the Sanatorium.

Finland – Designed by Aalto

Embark on a country-spanning odyssey to discover the heart and soul of Alvar Aalto’s architectural legacy. Begin in Turku, where Aalto’s modernistic early works stand as monuments to his evolving style. Find yourself in Helsinki, where the iconic Finlandia Hall and the Academic Bookstore exemplify his philosophy of form following function. In Jyväskylä, the Aalto2 Museum awaits, a space where Aalto’s genius blurs the lines between practicality and artistry.

Journey to Säynätsalo to admire the Town Hall, a beacon of community and design, and explore the Muuratsalo Experimental House, a canvas of Aalto’s daring creativity. Venture to Kauttua Ironworks in Southwest Finland, a magnificent home to six Aalto structures, including the Terraced house and riverside sauna. Finish up at Villa Mairea, a residential marvel that harmonises with the natural world. This tour is a true tribute to Aalto’s vision, a chance to see the built environment through his transformative lens.

This five-day tour commences in Turku with Aalto’s first modernist works and progresses throug Helsinki’s iconic landmarks, such as the Finlandia Hall and the Academic Bookstore. The tour then ventures to the historically rich Kauttua Ironworks, followed by visits to Säynätsalo Town Hall and the Muuratsalo Experimental House. The excursion concludes with a tranquil stay at Villa Mairea, a serene
architectural haven.

Finland’s Modernist Tapestry Tour

Embark on a journey that weaves through Alvar Aalto’s architectural imagination, stretching across Finland to the cultural heart of Rovaniemi and the historic charm of Turku.

This tour unveils a world where concrete, glass, and nature blend into a seamless, beautiful continuum. Marvel at the bold modernism of Helsinki’s Finlandia Hall, and experience the tranquillity of Säynätsalo Town Hall, a gem nestled in Lakeland. In Rovaniemi, bear witness to the administrative and cultural prowess of the Aalto Centre, including Rovaniemi City Hall, the City Library, and Lappia House. Further south, explore Turku to discover Alvar and Aino Aalto’s early modern buildings, pioneering a new architectural era.

As you drift from the urban vibrancy of the capital to serene lakesides and historic cityscapes, let Aalto’s vision inspire a new understanding of harmony between built environments and nature.

Tour in brief: A nine-day journey encompassing the architectural marvels of Alvar Aalto in Finland’s key cities. This package offers a comprehensive experience including accommodations, select meals,
entrance fees to notable attractions, and insightful guided tours. Free time is allocated for personal exploration and shopping, promising a full immersion into Aalto’s world.

Jyväskylä – Aalto’s Lakeland impressions

This experience is an intimate exploration of Aalto’s structural poetry: the University of Jyväskylä Campus, a testament to his genius. The serene Säynätsalo Town Hall. Then add the architectural allure of the Jyväskylä City Theatre, a stage for cultural narratives, and the spiritual resonance of Muurame Church.

Each visit isn’t to a site but to a story—a narrative shaped by Aalto’s dedication to innovation and elegance. Dive into the depths of architectural marvels and discover spaces that redefine the essence of form and function.

Discover Aalto’s diverse architectural phases in a three-day tour of the Jyväskylä region. From the early classicism to functionalism and from renowned Säynätsalo Town Hall’s architecture in brick to the Jyväskylä City Theatre’s monumentalism, this tour blends Aalto’s heritage with the Petäjävesi Old
Church’s heritage and the natural beauty of Lakeland, complemented by local hospitality.

Alajärvi Town Hall

Among the Aalto sites in Alajärvi, the town hall is the largest and most prominent. The building’s facade is dominated by the large windows of the council chamber and the minimalist white walls. Construction of the Alajärvi town hall began in 1966 and it was completed a year later. The most impressive parts of the terrain-adaptive office building are the lobby and the council chamber. The council chamber is taller than the rest of the building and is adorned with windows of various sizes and shapes that let in the rays of the morning and evening sun.

Alvar Aalto approached his buildings as total works of art, where furniture and lighting were also important elements of the design. In the council chamber of the Alajärvi town hall, there are furnishings, tables, chairs, and lamps designed by Aalto, as well as seating in the foyer.

Alajärvi Parish Hall

Construction of the parish hall began in 1969 and it was completed a year later. The Japanese-influenced parish hall features a lot of open, bright, and unified space. The parish hall’s minimalist white style echoes other buildings in the Aalto Center, such as the town hall and the library. The Aalto Center comprises several buildings by Aalto, all within a short walking distance from each other. Together, the buildings of the Aalto Center form a unique ensemble.

Inside the parish hall, there is a lot of open space. Aalto’s interest in Japanese culture and architecture is evident in the interior aesthetics of the parish hall. The minimalist appearance of both the interior and exterior of the parish hall contrasts with the Alajärvi Church, designed by Carl Ludwig Engel, located behind the building. Although the styles of the buildings are completely different, their color schemes are similar.

Seaside museums – Architecture, art and home museums by the sea!

A self-guided museum tour around the Laajalahti bay, outside the usual tourist routes, reveals seven unique museum sites that can be experienced together or separately. In addition to the scenic surroundings, the sites are united under interesting architecture and the fact that they have originally been homes and / or workspaces. The Didrichsen Art Museum, Villa Gyllenberg and Gallen-Kallela museums also feature significant art collections and changing exhibitions.

In Alvar Aalto’s home and office building in Munkkiniemi you can take part in guided tours all year round. Aficionados of architecture and design will get an insight into the interesting life of the Aalto family and everyday life of architects’ office. During the visit, you can also explore the beautiful gardens surrounding the buildings.

On a guided tour in Tamminiemi you will learn about the house’s most famous and longest-lived inhabitant: president Urho Kekkonen (1900–1986), and discover the original interiors and design from the 1970s. Tamminiemi’s legendary tar-smelling, seaside sauna can also be visited during the summer season.

The nearby Seurasaari open-air museum comes alive in the summer. The beautiful and fascinating traditional Finnish buildings, immersed into the magnificent natural setting of the island, constitute a favourite destination for both Helsinki locals and travellers around.

There are as many as two high-quality art museums on the small Kuusisaari island. The Didrichsen Art Museum has 2-3 changing exhibitions each year. The neighbouring Villa Gyllenberg features museum’s permanent collection which includes, amongst other masterpieces, 38 works by Helene Schjerfbeck. In addition, the museum also organises changing exhibitions. On Saturdays during the summer, Kuusisaari can be reached also by water bus running between Market Square in the city centre and Kuusisaari.

The northern shore of Laajalahti bay also offers exciting museum experiences, as well as a pleasant museum café where visitors can spend a relaxing moment. The Gallen-Kallela Museum, located in a castle-like villa designed by artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela, presents the art and life of Gallen-Kallela and his contemporaries with changing exhibitions, as well as exhibitions of contemporary art. From April you can also cycle to the museum on a city bike.

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.

Guided walking tour of the Aalto Centre in Seinäjoki

As an architectural whole, the Administrative and Cultural Centre in Seinäjoki is unique on a global scale.

The Seinäjoki Aalto Centre was designed by world famous architect Alvar Aalto. As an architectural whole, the Administrative and Cultural Centre in Seinäjoki is unique on a global scale. The six buildings are gathered right in the middle of Seinäjoki city centre, within walking distance from Seinäjoki railway station.

A guided walking tour led by a local guide from Seinäjoki will include the The Cross Of The Plains Church, Seinäjoki City Hall, Seinäjoki City Theatre, Aalto Library and the world’s largest collection of Aalto glassware. You will also see the architecturally spectacular Apila Library, designed by JKMM Architects.