Reindeer antler city plan

Alvar Aalto had strong ties to Lapland throughout his life. Aalto’s operations in Rovaniemi started from the ruins of the town destroyed in the Lapland War. The Second World War ended in Lapland with almost complete destruction. In Rovaniemi, 90 percent of the buildings were destroyed, and a huge reconstruction project was ahead. Alvar Aalto led the reconstruction office of the Finnish Architects’ Association.

In 1945, Aalto drew the famous reindeer antler city plan for Rovaniemi, the basic idea of ​​which was both a strong commitment to nature and flexibility. The plan emphasizes Rovaniemi’s position as a traffic hub in Northern Finland. The plan gets its name from the figure drawn on the map. The roads leading to the north, west and south with parks around them, form the reindeer’s antlers and at the same time together with the Ounasjoki and Kemijoki rivers delimit the city center, which forms the reindeer’s head. The sports field in the center is the eye of the reindeer. Aalto’s original reindeer antler plan was not realized as such, but the figure of the reindeer is still recognizable.

Aalto’s main work in Rovaniemi is the administrative and cultural center – Aalto center – formed by the city library, the congress center Lappia Hall and the City Hall which was already founded in the reindeer antler plan. Aalto also designed residential and commercial buildings for Rovaniemi. The park-like residential area of ​​Korkalorinne is called the Tapiola of Rovaniemi. In the center of Rovaniemi, Aalto designed several buildings for Aho’s businessman family, both for business and residential use.

The gems of Aalto’s architecture in Helsinki, Jyväskylä and Seinäjoki

Experience Jyväskylä the capital of Alvar Aalto’s architecture combined with Seinäjoki where Aalto also left an indelible mark.

Jyväskylä, which is located in the heart of the Finnish Lakeland boasts more Alvar Aalto buildings from different periods of his career than any other city in the world. Jyväskylä has thus really earned its title as the Capital Alvar Aalto ‘s Architecture.

Alvar Aalto has left an indelible mark also on the city of Seinäjoki, situated amid the open landscapes of Ostrobothnia. The Aalto Centre in Seinäjoki is a globally significant architectural complex at the cutting edge of modern architecture.

A visit to both cities will give an in-depth insight into Alvar Aalto’s architectural thinking through the decades, while also hearing exciting stories about Aalto not only as an architect but as a designer and a private person. During the tour, you will also see the beauty of the Finnish Lakeland and the vast open fields of Ostrobothnia and enjoy a glimpse of the traditional Finnish way of life in the two towns and the nearby countryside.

Guided tours in Jyväskylä

”Central Finland is often reminiscent of Toscana, the home of cities built on hills, and that provides a small clue about how classically beautifully this province could be built”, wrote Alvar Aalto almost a hundred years ago.

A deep interest in both the historical Latin cultural heritage and the demands of modern society was an enduring feature of Alvar Aalto’s thinking and work. Aalto always had a trip to Italy in mind – the trip he had once made or the journey he was in the process of planning. For him Italy represented something characterised by a sympathetic design world of human dimensions.

Now it is possible to explore the Jyväskylä Region’s fabulous scenery, enjoy the essence of Central Finland, and discover both its cities on hills and Aalto’s human-scale architecture on a variety of guided tours inspired by Italy and the master architect himself.

Alvar Aalto – e la natura – Architectural Cruise

Welcome to experience the Alvar Aalto Cruise on Lake Päijänne. The most well-known Finnish architect Alvar Aalto used to spend his time in the beautiful Säynätsalo area where he also used to have his summer house – designed by himself of course.

During this trip you will get to know Alvar Aalto’s history and the Säynätasalo Town Hall which was designed by Aalto. Did you know that Alvar Aalto often travelled to Säynätsalo by the same boat S/S Suomi?

The steamboat s/s Suomi departs from Jyväskylä and arrives to Säynätsalo dock where the guide is waiting for you. Together with the guide you’ll find your way to the Säynätsalo Town Hall where the guide will tell you more about Aalto’s unique design. After the tour you’ll head back to Jyväskylä by local bus nro 16.

Alvar and Gösta – two Masters

What significance does art, architecture and design have for Finland and its people? What is the relationship between art, architecture and design and the forest industry, the traditional lifeline of the Finnish economy? How close to nature is it possible for Finnish architecture and design to get?

The Alvar and Gösta tour offers, on a human scale, a unique insight into the Finnish way of living in close rela-tionship with nature. The tour offers unforgettable experiences for fans of culture and those who would like to learn more about the Finnish way of life in the midst of the most beautiful Central Finland landscapes, where lakes, rivers and forests are ever present.

Church of the Cross

On the old church site of Kolkanmäki rises the architecturally impressive tower of the Church of the Cross, built 1978. This vital element of the Lahti cityscape is a masterwork of Alvar Aalto, elegantly mirroring the city hall – located on the southern end of an axis crossing the market square – designed by Eliel Saarinen, another master architect.

As the primary church of Lahti, the Church of the Cross is a well-known place of worship, clerical procedures and spiritual activities. Master organists from around the world have played the church’s 53-stop pipe organ, constructed at Veikko Virtanen’s workshop. The church serves as important concert venue and studio due to its great acoustic design.


Lahti’s Kolkkamäki Hill was occupied from 1890 to 1977 by a classical Finnish wooden church, until it was torn down by the Evangelical-Lutheran congregations of Lahti to make way for a new church. Alvar Aalto was invited to design a new central church for Keski-Lahti.

The decision to demolish the old church and replace it with a new one sparked a religious controversy, which was unique in the history of Finnish churches due to its scale and ferocity. Complaints and statements to various authorities regarding Aalto’s plans lasted nearly seven years.

When Alvar Aalto started to plan the church, he visited the future church site. The preservation of trees, the closeness to nature, and the opening of the church into nature were important to Aalto. This worked well with Aalto’s intent to have the Church of the Cross act as a Getsemane – a place of prayer and silence in the middle of the busy, modern Lahti. The church’s triangular layout was the first of its kind in Finland.

The church’s southern wall boasts a cross-shaped cluster of 52 windows. The simple cross on the altar wall was fashioned from a support beam of the old church’s belfry. The concrete belfry of the Church of the Cross rises 40 metres up directly from the structure. It holds the three bells of the previous church, which remain in use to this day.

Finlandia Hall

Finlandia Hall was completed in Helsinki’s city centre in 1971 and the extra wing in 1975. The building was intended for congresses and concerts.

The location of Finlandia Hall is part of the plan for Helsinki’s city centre that Aalto made in the 1960s. The building was intended to be one of a cluster of cultural building around Töölö Bay. In the unrealised plan the main traffic artery into Helsinki was on the opposite side of the Bay. The building’s main façade faces in that direction.

Aalto wanted the interior and exterior marble facings to create a link with the culture of the Mediterranean countries. The details of the furnishings, including the furniture and light fittings, were carefully designed to create an integrated whole.

In 1962 the Helsinki city authorities commissioned Aalto to design a concert and congress building as the first part of his great centre plan. The Finlandia Hall was completed nine years later. Even the earliest plans show the main characteristics of the final solution. One of the most conspicuous alterations involved the chamber music room, originally intended to soar like the main auditorium above the main building mass.

The Finlandia Hall was adapted strictly to Aalto’s centre plan, with its main (eastern) facade turned towards the projected Terrace Square and the car entrance on the bottom level, intended to continue in the form of a tunnel to other cultural buildings along the shore of Töölö Bay. At this level each section’s own access stair can be reached by car. The next storey, or entrance level, with doors opening directly into Hesperia Park, is dominated by the entrance hall, and also contains cloakrooms and other service space.

A broad staircase leads up to the foyers with entrances to the large and small auditorium, the restaurant, etc. Smaller staircases (one of which forms a visible exterior motif in the east facade) lead from the main foyer to the gallery-like balcony foyer and the doors to the main auditorium’s balcony. Principally responsible for the design of the interiors at Finlandia Hall were the interior designer Pirkko Söderman and the architect Elissa Aalto.

The small chamber music room, which has adjustable, shield-shaped acoustic screens attached to the ceiling, seats 350 people; the main auditorium seats 1,750.

The Finlandia Hall was inaugurated in December 1971. Planning of a congress section began even before the main wing was completed; the congress wing was ready for use as early as 1975. The idea was to improve the working conditions for conferences, an important aspect of the building’s use.

The congress wing, linked to the south end of the main building, contains a large foyer in addition to conference rooms and halls of various sizes. The west facade of the wing has large windows and rounded, concave hollows to make space for some of the old trees growing on the site – and to enliven the facade.

Artist community at Lake Tuusula and Villa Kokkonen in Järvenpää

The museums near the lake Tuusula display the history and the rich cultural heritage of Finland. A unique community of artists formed on the shores of Lake Tuusula in early 1900’s. Notable artists settled in the rural landscape and their works play an important role in the story of the Finnish identity. In artists’ studios of National Romantic style you can sense the historical atmosphere that generated the inspiring national spirit and the strive towards independence from Russia. Finland gained independence in 1917. Visitors can enjoy art and experience the past through artists, writers and composers of the Golden age of Finnish art. The artists’ studios takes you back in time to the National Romantic era and the other museums in the area exhibit the history of Finland in the 20th century.

Villa Kokkonen (1967—1969) is a real rarity among the private homes designed by Alvar Aalto, because Aalto designed the building as an artist’s home. The composer Joonas Kokkonen lived in Villa Kokkonen for 27 years. The architectural heart of the building is the unique combination of a grand piano and concert room.

Lake Tuusula is a perfect travel destination for it offers you plenty of interesting places to visit within easy reach. Lake Tuusula also offers great possibilities for outdoor activities in summer and in winter. A good bike route of 24 kilometres leads you around the lake in the beautiful landscape. There are lots of places for recreation close by, for example the Sarvikallio viewing point. It offers a spectacular view over the lake Tuusula, a view that inspired artists to portray this distinctively Finnish landscape in their work.

Lake Tuusula Road and the artist community

The road by the Lake Tuusula, Tuusulan Rantatie in Finnish, was part of a historical road connected to
Helsinki. It goes through the beautiful lakeside scenery all the way until the nearby city of Järvenpää. The
Lake Tuusula artist community had a major influence on the cultural history of Finland in the era of
National Romantic movement. Several artists of the golden age of Finnish art settled on the eastern bank of the lake in the late 19th and early 20th century.

The first ones to settle on the shores of Lake Tuusula were the author Juhani Aho and his artist wife Venny
Soldan-Brofeldt. In spring 1897 they rented a villa, which is now called Ahola and open as a museum. Their example inspired other artists to move there, to live and work in the peaceful surroundings close to nature.

The studio residence of painter Eero Järnefelt was built in 1901. Next year were finished the atelier of
painter Pekka Halonen, Halosenniemi, and the home of poet J.H. Erkko, Erkkola. The master composer Jean Sibelius moved with his family in 1904. Their villa is called Ainola after his wife, Aino Sibelius.

Today these five homes are open for visitors. They are located by the Lake Tuusula within a span of 5 kilometres. The Tuusulanjärvi artists’ community would have come to an end by the death of Jean Sibelius in 1957, but the community gained new momentum when Joonas Kokkonen cancelled his plans to move to Helsinki. Instead, he acquired a lakeside plot from the Town of Järvenpää at an affordable price and was able to hire the most famous architect in Finland to design his home. Villa Kokkonen is located nearby, on the other side of lake Tuusulanjärvi.

House of Culture

The House of Culture was completed in 1958 close to the centre of Helsinki. It was designed as a multi-purpose building for the Communist Party of Finland. Apart from the concert hall, the building was intended to accommodate a variety of cultural activities.

The concert hall and theatre are in the redbrick, fan-shaped section of the building, and the office wing is in the rectangular section behind the copper façade. The main entrance is in a low section connecting the other two. The low canopy projecting over the entrance courtyard marks it off from the street, and links the parts of the building together.

With its Aalto furnishings and light fittings and its wealth of details, the House of Culture is protected by the Act on the Protection of Buildings. The building is in use as a concert and event venue.

Ode to architecture and culture – best of Lahti

The tour takes you to the buildings by the renowned Finnish architects Alvar Aalto and Eliel Saarinen, and to see some contemporary wooden architecture.

Transfer to Lahti from Helsinki. After arrival, guided wooden architecture tour in the Lahti harbour area. The wood architecture park is constructed in the vicinity of the Sibelius Hall in Lahti and it consists of buildings and structures designed by the winners of the international Spirit of Nature Wood Architecture Award. The tour also includes visits at the Sibelius Hall and Pro Puu “Pro Wood” Gallery, which promotes the collaboration of wood professionals. The premises include a gallery and shop.

Later on, transfer and lunch at Restaurant Roux, which was chosen Restaurant of the Year in 2016. After lunch it is time to explore the designs of Alvar Aalto and Eliel Saarinen in Lahti with a guide. During this guided walking tour, you will admire the work of Alvar Aalto and Eliel Saarinen. The tour starts from the Lahti City Hall designed by Eliel Saarinen (please note: short indoor tour is possible only during working hours). The Lahti City Hall was completed in 1912 and represents the art nouveau style. From the city hall the tour continues to the Church of the Cross designed by Alvar Aalto and completed in 1978. The acoustics of the church were designed by Alvar Aalto’s son, Hamilkar Aalto.

After the tour, transfer back to Helsinki.