Rovaniemi City Library

The library building, which was completed in 1965, was the first of the Rovaniemi administrative and cultural center buildings.

The Rovaniemi library consists of two connected parts: a fan-shaped library hall and an elongated, rectangular office wing. The interior design of the library followed the idea typical of Aalto’s libraries, where the library’s reading rooms were placed on a lower level than the rest of the library hall, in their own recesses. The goal of the hall’s fan-like shape is to enable the staff to have an unobstructed view of the entire hall. In addition to the library hall, the building contains, among other things, a music library, magazine rooms, an exhibition and auditorium hall, and a children’s section.

Natural light and lighting played an important role in the library’s plans. Indirect natural light is brought into the premises by various upper and roof windows and an exceptionally wide variety of fixed special lamps. This creates a great atmosphere in the building in the changing northern light, from dark winters to nightless nights in summer. Some of the furniture and lighting in the library are Artek’s standard models, but Aalto’s office also designed special furniture and at least 10 different lighting models for the building.

The Rovaniemi library is closed for the time being due to renovations that are scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2025.

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.

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.

Espoo and Otaniemi Campus Area

Espoo, located west of Helsinki, is part of the Finnish capital region. Alvar Aalto’s most famous work in Espoo is the Otaniemi campus, now known as Aalto University. Originally known as Helsinki University of Technology, the campus was inspired by American college campuses and realised as their Finnish counterpart by Aalto. The region is under constant expansion, being close to Helsinki, but Aalto’s works remain in their original use.

The center of Otaniemi, Espoo holds a park campus constructed originally in the 1950s, with layout by Alvar Aalto and several buildings designed by him and other famous finnish architects, including Reima & Raili Pietilä and Heikki & Kaija Sirén. Otaniemi Campus is part of Aalto University, named in honor of the architect.

Otaniemi and nearby Harjuviita contain several types of buildings designed by Aalto’s office: from power plant to water tower, and mall to residences. Aalto also made unrealised plans for Espoo residential areas’ layouts.

Helsinki University of Technology main building 1949/1953-65

Alvar Aalto won the design competition for the Helsinki University of Technology in Otaniemi, Espoo, in 1949. In addition to the main campus building Aalto’s office designed several others. The main building was designed in 1953–55. The University of Technology is now part of Aalto University and the building is known as Undergraduate Centre.

Building work was begun in 1964 and the main building was inaugurated in 1966. It was built on the site of the old Otnäs manor. The main building’s stepped auditorium rising above the campus became its main focal point. The amphitheatre is a recurrent theme in Aalto’s architecture.

The main building is divided into several building units, with sheltered courtyards in between. The façade is clad in specially made dark-red brick, black granite and copper.

The design of the Otaniemi campus was intended to separate pedestrians from motorized traffic. Footpaths connect the various department buildings in a park-like setting. The entrance to the main building is easily reached via both the motorized and pedestrian routes.

The main building was later extended and substantial supplemental building still goes on in the Otaniemi area.

Campus area is open to visitors.

Helsinki University of Technology Library 1964-70

Helsinki University of Technology Library, together with the main building, forms the centre of the Otaniemi campus. The library nowadays goes by the name of the Harald Herlin Learning Centre.

The entrance to the redbrick-clad building is from the park and Otaniementie Road side. The reading room and loan library are on the second floor. The focal point of the space is the large loans counter, from beside which stairs lead down to the entrance floor.

The library interior was designed to make it pleasant to work in. The loan library and reading room get natural light indirectly from the skylights and clerestory windows. Aalto’s design also sought to keep out the noise of traffic on Otaniementie Road.

Open for library use. Campus area is open to visitors.

Otahalli Sports Hall 1949-52

The design of Otaniemi sports hall was begun in 1950 and it was first used for the summer Olympics in Helsinki in 1952. The building is known as the Otahalli.

The building originally had two parts, a small hall clad in white brick and a larger one in wood with an earth floor. The roof truss in the wooden hall spans 45 metres. Aalto planned a spectator stand to go between the halls.

Numerous changes have been made to the building over the years and it is still in its original use.

Open for use as a sports hall.

Power Plant 1960-64

The central-heating power plant on the Otaniemi university campus was built in two stages in 1960–64. The power plant in the middle the university campus is just one example of Aalto’s power-plant architecture.

The building’s façade is clad in red brick. The large windows reduce the building mass of the power station. The interior is visible through the rectangular windows. This is a manifestation of modern architecture’s romanticizing attitude to technology.

Aalto designed several power-station buildings, often in conjunction with industrial plants. The power station at Otaniemi is in a central position and prominently on display. The building has been extended and alterations have been made over the years.

Power Plant is viewable from the outside.

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.

Varkaus daytour – industrial history and Lake Saimaa waterways

Welcome to experience Alvar Aalto in the lake district of Finland, beside Lake Saimaa!

In Varkaus, Aalto drew up designs ranging from industrial buildings and town plans to the homes of ordinary people. He started as the designer of the Varkaus Mills in the mid-1930s and continued in this role for about 10 years. There were also a number of plans that never materialised. You will also see other old building history of Varkaus, enjoy the natural environment in the Lake Saimaa area and savour food indigenous of the Savo region.

Alvar Aalto, a trailblazer in functionalism, used his design to achieve a more progressive and equal society. In the 1940s, he assumed post-war reconstruction and its sensible implementation as his other key objectives. In Varkaus, Aalto drew up designs ranging from industrial buildings and town plans to the homes of ordinary people. The Varkaus house factory manufactured hundreds of standardised houses designed by him. These were erected in all parts of Finland.

The bicentennial industrial history of Varkaus is evident in the appearance of the town. Over the years, Varkaus has been the host of successful iron and engineering works, shipyards, sawmills, wood-processing plants and paper mills. The Varkaus of today is also renowned for its expertise in energy technology.

Part of the former industrial area has been converted into a modern fishery centre. Varkaus is able to offer rainbow trout, sturgeon and caviar grown in an environmentally benign manner in the waters of Lake Saimaa.

Industrial history is supplemented by the Museum of Mechanical Music, which presents the international history of mechanical music from the 19th century to the present day.

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.

Erottaja Pavilion

Erottaja Pavilion is one of Helsinki’s earliest Aalto-designed buildings. This small building intended as an emergency-shelter entrance is close to Helsinki’s city centre.

The Pavilion building is part of a larger plan for a traffic system for the Erottaja district. Aalto’s office won the architectural competition for the entire Erottaja district, but the traffic system was never implemented. The iron-framed pavilion is clad in bronze and granite.

Erottaja Pavilion, close to the Akateeminen Kirjakauppa bookshop, is a curiosity in Aalto’s production, a reminder of his larger, unrealized plans for Helsinki’s city centre.