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

Aerola Terraced Houses in Vantaa

When Finland was selected to host the 1952 Summer Olympics, it also contributed to the construction of the current Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. Scheduled air traffic in Finland had also grown rapidly at the turn of the 1940s and 1950s. Malmi Airport, which had been completed in 1936, was no longer able to meet the growing demand, and a decision was taken to build a new airport. The Helsinki-Vantaa Airport (1952) was completed just a little over a month before the start of the Olympics, and soon afterwards Alvar Aalto’s Architect Office was commissioned to design employment housing for the staff of Finnair’s predecessor Aero Oy in proximity to the new airport.

In early drafts from 1952, the terraced houses of Aerola were originally placed right next to the brand new airport. Later, in 1953, the site for the new residential area was relocated to its current location, a little further from the airport. Aerola’s terraced house complex consists of two identical 2-storey terraced houses stepping on a slope, each comprising 20 apartments of different sizes.

Entrances open on both sides: the west side gives access to the studios and one three-room apartment located on the south end of the building, while the three-room and one four-room apartments, which develop on two floors, have entrances on the east side. Each apartment has an independent entrance fronting onto a small courtyard area. The garages are located at the end of the buildings, and the basements include separate storage rooms for all of the dwellings. In the middle of the plot, between the two rows of houses, stands an L-shaped building that houses the sauna, laundry room and heating centre.

This whitewashed building complex was constructed between 1953-55, originally planned as part of a larger entity, which also included four apartment buildings and a few detached houses. After the first phase consisting of the terraced houses and the sauna and laundry building, however, the project was not developed further, and a vocational school was later built on the site.

Aerola’s terraced houses complex is an important historical entity within the city of Vantaa. In order to protect it, the city even altered an originally approved redevelopment plan in 2008. In addition, some elements of the interiors of the apartments are also protected by law. The year 2018 saw the beginning of renovation works in Aerola under plans made by the architectural firm A-Konsultit in connection with the Vantaa City Museum and the Alvar Aalto Foundation. Renovation of the first terraced house was completed in the spring of 2020 and renovations of the second house have since begun.

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.

Terraced House at the Kauttua Works in Eura

The Terraced House in Kauttua is one of Alvar Aalto’s most prominent works also internationally. In 1937, Alvar Aalto received a commission from the A. Ahlström company for the town planning and infill building of the Kauttua ironworks area. The assignment also stemmed from Alvar Aalto’s friendship with the company’s CEO Harry Gullichsen and his wife Maire Gullichsen. Ties to the traditional architecture of the area were deliberately cut, and instead Kauttua was envisioned as a stage for both a new communal life concept, and modern architecture. The first house to be built in the area was a “stairless apartment block”, known as the stepped terrace house, completed in 1938.

The stepped terraced house was designed as housing for the company’s senior staff. Originally, there were to be several such houses placed on the slopes in the area. The stepped terraced house is a concrete example of the architect’s desire to place the building in close contact with nature: the elevation of the multi-storey residential house follows the slope of the hill, in such a way that the entrance to each dwelling is at ground level.

The three upper flats are equipped with a terrace that extends over half of the lower flat’s roof; this way no-one can look onto their neighbour’s terrace. The three lower dwellings have a basement cut into the slope, and contain three bedrooms, a kitchen, a housemaid’s room and a large living room looking out onto the terrace. The top block comprises three small apartments, two of which open with windows towards the rear of the building. The terrace rails and pergolas for creeping plants are unstripped saplings.

Architecture, interior design and art come together in the Terraced House, where one of the apartments (number 3) is open to the public. This apartment hosts varying exhibitions, and a sales exhibition of furniture pieces whose display is rearranged occasionally. The apartment is furnished with vintage Artek models and lighting fixtures, and some of the items are on sale.

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.

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.