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.

Cross Of The Plains and the Parish Centre

Aalto took part in a competition for a large church and parish centre announced by Seinäjoki parish in 1951, sending in an entry marked “Lakeuksien risti” (“Cross of the plains”).

Instead of placing the parish rooms under the church or in a smaller, separate building, as the other entrants had done, Aalto seized upon the big religious events commonly organized in Osthrobotnia in summer. He laid out a large piazza, loping down towards the church and girded by the parish facilities, in front of the church´s main facade. He laid out a large piazza, loping down towards the church and girded by the parish facilities, in front of the church´s main facade. This space-consuming solution obliged Aalto to exceed the prescribed construction limit by some twenty metres, which prevented the jury from awarding him a prize. The jury awarded Aalto´s entry a purchase and recommended it as the basis for implementation.

Aalto was commissioned to develop the plain further. The church was built between 1958 and 1960 and the large parish centre in front between 1964 and 1966. The church was basically build to the competition design, except that Aalto had hoped to use black granite as the facade material; for reasons of cost, however, he had to be content with brick rendered white, only the side chapel being faced with granite.

The main characteristics of the church complex are as follows: on the north side stands the campanile, 65 metres high, in the shape of a stylized cross. Monumentally vertical, visible from afar in the endless plains, it is the town´s symbol. The slightly wedge-shaped, symmetrical church interior is 47 metres long and provides seating for a congregation of 1400. The vestry lies behind the altar, and between it and the campanile is a tiny baptistery and wedding chapel with a stained-glass work by Aalto. Aalto also designed the church textiles and communion vessels.

The parish centre´s main divergence from the competition entry is the open staircase on an axis from the main facade of the church to the town hall square (built up later). This staircase separates the two wings of the building, which contain a large assembly hall, catering facilities for the congregation, a room for confirmation classes, a clubroom, offices, and several apartments for employees.

Vyborg Library

The Alvar Aalto Library in Vyborg, completed in 1935, was one of the buildings that brought Aalto worldwide fame. The history of the competition and design for Vyborg Library is crucially linked with Alvar Aalto’s changeover from classicism to functionalism. The ideas developed for the Viipuri Library competition remained central to the work of Aalto’s office throughout its existence.

Amongst Alvar Aalto’s buildings, the Vyborg Library has had an unusually varied history. Aalto won the competition for the Library in 1927 with a completely Classical proposal, but because of the Great Depression, the construction of the Library was postponed several times. The planned site for the library building also changed from the original plans and also funding initially allocated to the Library was used, instead, to erect a statue of an elk in front of the site where the Library would have later been. The Library was eventually completed in 1935, a modern and progressive building with a formal language developed from Aaltos previous projects: the Turun Sanomat building and Paimio Sanatorium.

The building has two main elements: firstly the library itself, with its various departments, and secondly the socially active part of the library, the clubrooms. The Vyborg Library was also one of the first libraries in Finland at that time, that offered possibilities for other social activities in addition to the library itself. A lot of attention was also focused on the transformability of the spaces inside the building, where for example curtains were used as a room divider. The building consists of three separate libraries: the main hall, the children’s library and the newspaper hall. The main entrance to the building is placed in the library’s northern facade, while the children’s library and the newspaper reading room are located on the eastern and southern facades of the building. In addition to the distinct design language of the building, functionalist features can also be recognized in its light and unostentatious façade, flat roof, skylights and in long rows of windows running the length of the building.

In the Second World War, Finland lost Vyborg to the Soviet Union. The Vyborg library survived the war period, but it remained unused for a decade before some renovations were carried out under the Soviet authority. After the Soviet repairs, the Library functioned again as the Municipal Central Library as originally intended, and was the soul of cultural life in Vyborg.

However, eventually over time the Library fell gradually into disrepair. Eventually, at the start of the 1990s, the city of Vyborg asked Aalto’s architects office for help with planning the repair work. With support from the Finnish Ministry of the Environment, architect Elissa Aalto set up a restoration-working group, which developed into the current restoration association. The goal of this restoration project that spanned national borders was to re-instate the building’s original architectonic value. The renovation, which initially progressed slowly for financial reasons, was given a boost in December 2010 by funds from the Russian government.

The restored Library was opened to the public in November 2013; marking an end to twenty years of work. The restoration work of the library has since received awards for the exceptionally high-quality result and the laudable international cooperation. Nowadays the library is considered to be an important public building for the locals as well as a popular destination for travellers.

Aalto sites in Kouvola

Alvar Aalto’s most prominent works in Kouvola are located in Inkeroinen within the area of the Ankkapurha Culture Park. The buildings designed by Aalto in Tehtaanmäki, Inkeroinen date back to 1937 to 1956. These include the industrial buildings of the Anjala Paper Mill and the Tampella Co. Housing Area, including Rantalinja semi-detached houses, Tervalinja terraced houses, three engineering personnel houses and housing blocks for the workers of the mill. While in Kouvola, also make sure to check the Kasarminmäki gateposts, which the young architect designed for the garrison area when he was doing his military service.

The area is complemented by the Tehtaanmäki Primary School finished in 1940 and the Karhunkangas housing area of single-family homes, where most of the residential buildings were completed in 1938. The Tehtaanmäki Primary School is the only elementary school designed by Alvar Aalto that is still in its original use. The town plan designed by Aalto in 1937 covered the entire centre of Inkeroinen, but only the Karhunkangas area and the area adjacent to the mill were ever implemented.

The centre of Kouvola is also an interesting attraction to architecture enthusiasts. The administrative centre of Kouvola representing modernism is a nationally significant built cultural environment catalogued by the National Board of Antiquities. The Town Hall of Kouvola (Bertel Saarnio, Juha Leiviskä, 1964 to 1968, 1969) is an outstanding work of modern architecture classified by the international DOCOMOMO organisation.

The renovated pedestrian street Manski with its shops and cafeterias beckons you to have a cup of coffee and a rest. Those craving for culture make their way to explore the high-standard exhibitions of the Kouvola Art Museum belonging to the Poikilo Museums, and the museum building flooded with light.

Villa Skeppet

Villa Skeppet was the last home Alvar Aalto designed. Almost all the ideas and solutions that Aalto developed during his career are seen in Villa Skeppet. Aalto designed this house in for his friends the author Göran Schildt and his wife Christine. Göran Schildt’s passions in life; sailing and his love for Mediterranean culture were taken into consideration when Aalto designed the architecture and the furnishings for Villa Skeppet. Villa Skeppet is situated on a nearly level, park-like site with a view across the eastern bay harbour of the idyllic small town.

The lower parts of the villa are built of white rendered brick, whereas the large, fan-like living room which rises above the entrance and garage front is a timber construction, clad with vertical weatherboarding. The living room, which opens onto a wedge-shaped balcony, has large landscape windows on the sea side and an open fireplace designed by Aalto as an abstract sculpture.

Göran Schild alongside with his wife would residence Villa Skeppet mainly during summer. For this reason, the building has retained nearly its original condition. Nowadays the building is owned by the The Christine and Göran Schildt Foundation. It opened its doors to public momentarily for the first time in 2018. After renovations Villa Skeppet will be open for public permanently in 2020.

The living room is integrated with the central hall by means of a common ceiling borne by monumental beams, open balustrades, and two stair landings. The hall also provides access to the author’s quiet study, the bedroom, and the combined dining room and kitchen. The sauna is in a separate wooden wing linked to the main building by a latticework wall and a baldachin, both in free form.

In the centre of the inner yard is an amoeba-shaped lily pond and behind it a shed with a summer dining room. A lot of attention were also given to the landscaping designs. The garden is shielded from view by several screens consisting of diagonally placed vertical boards.

Aalto House

In 1934, Aino and Alvar Aalto acquired a site in almost completely untouched surroundings at Riihitie in Helsinki’s Munkkiniemi. Aino and Alvar Aalto designed the building, whose simple, natural materials soften the form language of modern architecture. Designing their own home gave them an opportunity to make various structural and material experiments. The Aalto House was completed in August 1936. Aalto’s architect’s office was in this building in Munkkiniemi until 1955.

Alvar Aalto lived in the house on Riihitie up until his death on 1976, and the building was used by the family long afterwards.The house, protected by the Act on the Protection of Buildings, is now part of the Alvar Aalto Foundation. Nowadays, the building is a home museum open to the public.

The house was designed as both a family home and an office and these two functions can clearly be seen from the outside. The studio and the family’s living areas have been discreetly separated from each other through choices of material. This can be seen in both the façades and the interiors.The slender mass of the office wing is in white-painted, lightly rendered brickwork. There are still clear references to Functionalism in the location of the windows. The cladding material of the residential part is slender, dark-stained timber battens. The building has a flat roof and a large south-facing terrace. The way that the rooms in this building with its closed street façade face in different directions has been carefully considered.

Although the street side elevation of the house is severe and closed-off, it is softened by climbing plants and a slate path leading up to the front door. There are already signs of the ‘new’ Aalto in the Aalto House, of the Romantic Functionalist. The plentiful use of wood as a finishing material and four open hearts built in brick also point to this. The Aalto House is a cosy, intimate building for living and working, designed by two architects for themselves, using simple uncluttered materials.

Studio Aalto

Alvar Aalto designed the building at Tiilimäki 20 in Munkkiniemi as his own office in 1955. Because of a number of large commissions, the office needed more space to work in. The building is only a short walk from Aalto’s own house, where the office had previously been located. Studio Aalto is one of the best of Alvar Aalto’s 1950s buildings.

“You can’t create architecture in an office environment,” is how Aalto described working in an architect’s office. Aalto designed a free-form studio section for the building, and a drawing room using natural light. The building curves around a stepped, amphitheatre-style courtyard sheltered from the wind. On the upper floor there is a drawing office on a narrow plan, beautifully encircled by natural light from a band of high-level windows. In 1962-1963 the building was extended by building a dining room for the staff, the ‘Taverna’, in the courtyard behind the high brick wall, with an office above it.

Many of Aalto’s best-known works were designed here at the Studio. Alvar Aalto ran the office until his death in 1976. After that, the office continued under the leadership of Elissa Aalto until 1994. The building came into the custodianship of the Alvar Aalto Foundation in 1984 and today it houses the Alvar Aalto Foundation staff. You can visit the Studio Aalto in guided tours for groups. There are public guided tours of the Studio throughout the year.

The white-rendered, wall-like, closed-in mass of the building conceals a garden shaped like an amphitheatre in its inner courtyard. The office staff could sit on the slate steps of the amphitheatre, listen to lectures or watch slide shows projected on the white wall.

The principal space in the building is the curving studio which has a view opening onto the courtyard. Horizontal battens fixed to the high walls of the studio allowed drawings to be displayed there. The rear wall is covered with climbing plants reaching up to the high-level windows and prototypes of light fittings designed by Alvar Aalto are hung in front of the wall.

The slanting bay window of the conference room with its roof light creates the perfect conditions for examining models and drawings.

Alvar Aalto in Helsinki

The maritime Helsinki is the biggest city in Finland and home for several buildings designed by Alvar Aalto. It also contains a wide range of other Finnish architecture from different centuries and decades.

Born in the small rural municipality of Kuortane, Alvar Aalto graduated as an architect in 1921 from the Technical University of Helsinki. In 1923, he established his first office in Jyväskylä, carrying the grandiose name “Arkkitehtuuri-ja monumentaalitaiteen toimisto” (Office of Architectural and Monumental Art). The office first moved to Turku and from there ultimately to Helsinki in the early 1930s.

Earlier in his career, Aalto had participated in several major architectural competitions in Helsinki, such as for the Parliament building and Olympic Stadium.

Designed in tandem with his wife Aino Aalto, also an architect, the family’s home was completed in Munkkiniemi in Helsinki in 1936. At that time, the Munkkiniemi area was not yet officially a part of Helsinki. The Aalto house now serving as a home museum was also designed to have a studio wing for use by the architectural office. Aalto knew the area well: as an example, in the early 1930s he designed a residential area (which never materialised) for the M.G. Stenius company in Munkkiniemi. The housing area designed for the employees of the National Pensions Institute were, in turn, completed in Munkkiniemi in 1954.

A new building was built in 1955 in Munkkiniemi near Aalto’s home to serve the needs of the expanding architectural office. Alvar Aalto’s studio is now the head office of the Alvar Aalto Foundation and a popular attraction among architectural travellers.

Several buildings designed by Alvar Aalto have been erected in the Helsinki region over the years. The head office of the National Pensions Institute and Enso-Gutzeit Co. Headquarters with their interiors were designed with great care down to the minutest detail for the needs of demanding clients. The centre of Helsinki houses buildings open to the public, such as the Rautatalo Office Building and the Academic Bookstore as well as Restaurant Savoy, which has kept its original interior from 1937 designed jointly by Aino and Alvar Aalto.

The House of Culture was completed near the centre of Helsinki in 1958. You can get to explore this building with a rich history and still used for versatile concerts and other cultural events during guided tours.

In 1959, the City Executive Board of Helsinki commissioned Alvar Aalto to draw up a plan for the central Kamppi-Töölönlahti area. Aalto outlined a new monumental centre for Helsinki, but ultimately only a small portion of the plans were brought to fruition – the Finlandia Hall is the only building of the row of cultural buildings planned along the Töölönlahti bay that was ever built.

The Finlandia Hall was designed as a conference and concert venue, and it is one of the last buildings designed by Aalto’s office. The Finlandia Hall was designed in 1967 to 1971 and 1973 to 1975. Alvar Aalto died in 1976, soon after the Finlandia Hall was ready. This building can be visited on guided tours and in conjunction with various events.

Tehtaanmäki residential district and school in Inkeroinen, Kouvola

The buildings in Tehtaanmäki district designed by Aalto date from 1937 to 1956. These buildings include industrial buildings, Rantalinja semi-detached houses, Tervalinja terraced houses, three single-family houses, three housing blocks, Tehtaanmäki Primary School and Karhunkangas single-family houses.

At the end of the 1930s, Tampella Co. established the Anjala Paper Mill in Inkeroinen and built the mill (1937 to 1938) and also houses for the workers, technical management and foremen. Alvar Aalto designed several industrial buildings, various residential houses and modifications and expansions to the existing buildings. The paper mill was modernised in the 1980s, and Stora Enso acquired Tampella’s mill in 1993.

Aalto drew up modification plans for the entrance of the head office of the mill, for the layout plan and for the adjacent house manager’s house. Many of the residential buildings in the industrial area were completed in 1938, and the Tehtaanmäki Primary School was built in 1938-39. The town plan designed by Aalto in 1937 covered the entire centre of Inkeroinen, but only the Karhunkangas area and the area adjacent to the mill were ever implemented.

In their own time, the buildings designed by Aalto were modern and up-to-date. Design had to fulfil its purpose rationally and in an economically viable manner. Aalto appreciated technology in the service of people, as an enabler of better housing conditions. For Alvar Aalto, architecture was not something that could be copied universally from one place to another, but instead, design took place on the terms of the terrain and landscape of the area. The buildings were embedded in the scenery, and the natural environment could stay close by.

The Inkeroinen project is associated with the construction of the Sunila Sulphate Pulp Mill and housing area, which Aalto had designed a little earlier, when Tampella, part of the industrial conglomerate, became convinced of the design capability of Aalto’s architectural office. Sunila was built on virgin ground, while Inkeroinen was adapted to the existing buildings both in terms of housing and industrial production.

In Inkeroinen, the social hierarchy was reflected in the house types and building style. The technical management were built single-family houses, with the Chief Engineering Manager’s house being the biggest. Foremen lived in semi-detached houses and workers in terraced houses and housing blocks. In the spirit of social responsibility and equality of modernism, the goal was to provide all with good living conditions. As an example, the Tervalinja and Rantalinja houses had a supply of hot water.

There were two public saunas in the Tehtaanmäki area, and a public sauna was also built in the Karhunkangas residential area of single-family houses. The goal was to give the apartments a view of the natural environment, and the gardens and outdoor decks were to serve as a continuation of the interior. People were also supposed to be able to live freely and independently.

The River Kymijoki has shaped the history of the entire Kymenlaakso region and given rise to a number of cultural environments related to agriculture, industry, houses and built-up areas. Sawmills and wood-processing plants were established beside hydropower sources and waterways.

Large-scale enterprises in the wood-processing industry promoted the growth of towns, readjusted the business structure and had an impact on the formation of social communities. The landscape characteristic of an industrial area comprised the mill with its smoke stack, and the villas of the mill management and the housing areas of the workers were erected around the mill itself.

The wood-processing industry in Anjala and Inkeroinen originated from Ankkapurha, or the large rapids. The old board mill now serves as the Ankkapurha Industrial Museum, which displays the first continuous board machine in Finland acquired for Inkeroinen in 1897.

The various historical strata of the paper and board mills in Inkeroinen are manifested in the different phases of construction. The oldest buildings in the area are the red-brick mill buildings and traditional wooden residential houses from the late 19th century. The board mill (1887) designed the a​rchitect A.M. Hedbäck is the oldest building, and its interior has been preserved close to original. There are two club buildings: one is a former school built in the mid-1890s and the other built in 1892 was originally in residential use. The Church of Inkeroinen designed by B. Federley was finished in 1910, and the hydroelectric plant designed by S. Frosterus and O. Gripenberg was built in 1921 to 1922.

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.