Kinkamon Aalto in Varkaus

Kinkamo is the first building that Alvar Aalto designed in Varkaus. Kinkamo was designed to be a weekend cabin in Kopolanniemi for the workers of the A. Ahlström factory. Kinkamo is a good example of Aalto’s efforts to adapt the building to its natural surroundings: it is located on a lake shore at the edge of the forest and it is not visible from the opposite shore, or from passing boats. The Warkaus Factory club-association approved the construction of Kinkamo during a general meeting held on May 12th, in 1937. The name Kinkamo was the result of a name competition organized in 1939.

Kinkamo is a joint project of Alvar and Aino Aalto: Alvar Aalto was commissioned a plan for the building in 1937, while the interiors were designed by Aino Aalto. The long building has a spacious veranda with a roof supported by sloping columns, a large open living area with a fireplace, and a separate sleeping wing. It also has a kitchen, drying room and a room for the housekeeper. The building’s horizontal line is emphasized by the horizontal timber cladding and narrow horizontal windows in the sleeping wing.

While designing Kinkamo, the architect couple played with historical motifs in an unusual manner. The originally open sleeping alcoves, furnished with built-in bunk beds, recalled a traditional Finnish rural style. The large dining table and separate chairs inside the dining hall, as well as the light fixtures, combine functionalism with medieval impressions in a unique way. The perforated decoration on the curved backrest of the dining chairs is also a practicality: it makes it easier to grab and move the chair. The medieval reference of the furniture conceived for Kinkamo is most clearly evident in one specific chair model: a high-backrest throne chair with four-leaved clover shapes pierced at the top of the backrest and a crown in the middle. Above the dining table is a straight five-lamp chandelier that repeats the motifs of the dining chairs.

Kinkamo is also equipped with a sauna: until 1976 in a structure re-adapted from a modular house designed by architect Kristian Gullichsen, which was then replaced with a sauna designed by architect Seppo Mykrä. The Warkaus Factory Club sold Kinkamo to A. Ahlström Oy in 1953, with the selling price being paid to the Varkaus branch of the General Mannerheim League for child welfare. In 1994, Kinkamo was transferred to Enso Gutzeit Oy, to be used for representation purposes. In the spring of 2019, Kinkamo was bought by Jukka Leväinen, a civil engineering entrepreneur from Varkaus, who then founded the company Kinkamon Aalto, which provides event and conference services.

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.

Riverside sauna at the Kauttua Works

Aino and Alvar Aalto designed the riverside sauna and laundry building for the employees of A. Ahlström company in the Kauttua Works area in Eura. The building is situated by the rapids in the beautiful surroundings of the bank of the flowing Eurajoki river. It was completed in 1946, with a log and brick structure resting on a concrete foundation. Originally the building had a turf roof. Nowadays Aalto’s riverside sauna is operated by a private entrepreneur, offering meeting and catering services, and of course the original Finnish Sauna experience.

Riverside sauna offers its guests a unique and inspiring space for coffee and lunch moments at their Café Nemo. The sauna facilities in the riverside sauna are warmed up for the guests upon request. In addition, pampering herbal and spa treatments are also available. Riverside sauna guests are welcome to swim in the nearby river or by request take a bath in the outdoor hot tub. The building has two changing rooms, a spacious terrace overlooking the river Eurajoki, and a lounge room decorated with Alvar Aalto furniture. Overnight stay at the sauna building is also available on request.

At the Riverside sauna you also find a design shop called Designpesula in the ground floor, in the former laundry room of the building. The shop is provided with unique Artek and Aalto second hand items as well as new Finnish and Scandinavian design items, available for purchase. Small gallery space features varying exhibitions.

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.

Muuratsalo Experimental house

The Muuratsalo Experimental House, Alvar and Elissa Aalto’s summer home, stands on the western shore of the island of Muuratsalo in Lake Päijänne. Besides the house itself, also in the grounds are a woodshed and smoke sauna.

The Experimental House consists of the main building (1952–54) and a guestroom-wing (1953). The L-shaped main building and walls form an internal courtyard which is open to the south and west. In the courtyard, the house façade material ranges from white-painted plastered wall to red brick. The heart of the patio is an open fireplace in the centre of the courtyard.

The smoke sauna is in a sandy cove on the lake shore. It was built on rocks, with logs from trees felled on site. Besides the steam room, the sauna building also has a changing room. Alvar Aalto made sketches for the sauna and Elissa Aalto created the working drawings.

Aalto designed the motorboat Nemo propheta in patria, which Elissa and Alvar Aalto used to get to the Experimental House in the summer. The boat is now in the Alvar Aalto Foundation’s collection. 

Find out more about the architecture of the building on the Alvar Aalto Foundation website. The Muuratsalo Experimental House can only be visited in the summer. Visits and guided tours are managed by the Aalto2 Museum Centre.

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

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.