Villa Tammekann

Situated in Tartu, the Granö Centre of the universities of Turku and Tartu was opened in April 2000.

The Granö Centre is located in a house designed by Alvar Aalto in 1932 as the residence of Professor August Tammekann and his family. The Turku University Foundation purchased the building from the children of the family in 1998 and the Villa Tammekann was repaired following Alvar Aalto’s original designs as closely as possible. In 2001, The Turku University Foundation was awarded the prestigious EuropaNostra -medal.

The centre has been named after J. G. Granö, former rector of the University of Turku and professor of geography of the University of Tartu. J. G. Granö was one of six Finnish professors invited to Tartu in the early 1920’s and he contributed greatly to further Finnish-Estonian university cooperation, founding, for example, the Finnish-Estonian school of geographical thought. His son, Fellow of the Academy of Finland, Olavi Granö was the initiator for establishing the cooperative centre for the universities of Turku and Tartu.

The Granö-center operates  today mainly as a residence for researchers. The stay for the individual scholars at Villa Tammekann lasts from 1-2 weeks up 12 months. The cosy athmosphere and good architecture creates new ideas and good motivation!

In 2012, Villa Tammekann was accepted onto the Iconic Houses -website, the international network connecting architecturally significant houses from the 20th century.

Villa Tammekann belongs to The Alvar Aalto Route – 20th Century Architecture and Design, as the only site in Estonia.

Nelimarkka Museum and Villa Väinölä in Alajärvi

Nelimarkka Museum

The Nelimarkka Museum in Alajärvi was founded by the painter and professor Eero Nelimarkka (1891-1977) in 1964. The building was designed by his friend, the architect Hilding Ekelund. Since 1995 it has functioned as the Regional Art Museum of Southern Ostrobothnia. It focuses on displaying regional Ostrobothnian art, but art education also plays an important role in its activities.

Temporary exhibitions, workshops and events for visitors of all ages are organized regularly. Since the mid-1980s the museum has also run an international residency program for artists. In the summertime you can enjoy coffee and cake in the light atmosphere of the museum’s: “Café de Nelimarkka”. The museum shop is open year-round. You can book a customized tour or a workshop at the museum. The Nelimarkka museum maintains as well the nearby Villa Nelimarkka and Villa Väinölä, located in the centre of Alajärvi.

Villa Väinölä

Alvar Aalto designed Villa Väinölä as his brother’s home and office. It is said that Aalto drew the first version of the building after his honeymoon to Italy. Villa Väinölä’s original plan, sketched in 1925, was based on drawings made by Aalto of ancient roman atriums witnessed in Italy. However, the plan was found to be too expensive and visionary to implement, so Aalto simplified the design according to his brother’s wishes, and a more affordable version of the building was completed in 1926. Aalto also designed an outbuilding at the north end of the main building, which was completed in 1938.

Väinö Aalto and his family moved away from Alajärvi in the early 1950s, and in 1952, the municipality of Alajärvi bought Villa Väinölä. During the ownership of the municipality of Alajärvi, an additional wing was added to the southern end of the building, in order to function as a reception area for a doctor’s office that operated in the Villa at the time. Villa Väinölä has at one time hosted also a tax office, a dental office and leisure offices of the municipality of Alajärvi, as well as housing and building inspection offices. The ownership of the building was moved over to the Nelimarkka Museum in 2015.

The latest renovation of Villa Väinölä was completed in the spring of 2018, and it was financed with the help of the National Board of Antiquities, Aisapari and the City of Alajärvi. Exhibitions, events and architectural residencies are currently organised at Villa Väinölä. Through the Nelimarkka Museum, the building can also be booked for meetings and private parties.

Youth Association Building in Alajärvi

The Alajärvi Youth Association building from 1920 is one of the buildings designed by Alvar Aalto during his studies. It is also his first public building design. Construction work was carried out quickly, and the building is still in use nowadays. The current Youth Association building, that was formerly the Defence Corps building, was completed in 1920, and it was inaugurated on November 28. Until 1946, the building housed the local Defence Corps and Lotta Svärd departments. In 1946, the building was bought by the Youth Association club, that still owns it.

The log building is in Neoclassical style. The outer walls are covered in vertical wooden boards, and the open high roof gives the building a castle-like feel. Cross beams support the ceiling of the main hall; the elevation is so high that there is enough space for a theatre stage and an orchestra balcony. The building is topped by a Carolean lantern on the roof, which is reminiscent of the bell tower of a church. The two side wings originally embraced a small courtyard of honour, that has since been replaced by a built-in vestibule.

The Youth Association building is located along Sairaalatie street, close to the centre of Alajärvi. However, the building has been largely rebuilt due to a fire damaging it in 1983. The Youth Association building was restored to its original form during the renovation work, and the inauguration of the new house was held in 1985. The Alajärvi Youth Association Club maintains and renovates the building within the limitations of the received funding and grants.

The Alajärvi Youth Association Club also offers the possibility of renting the building. The premises of the Youth Association building provide a great setting for organising parties and other events such as weddings and birthdays, meetings and concerts. The premises are well suited for gatherings of about 30-100 people.

Lappia Hall in Rovaniemi

Lappia Hall is part of the Rovaniemi administrative and cultural center, the Aalto Center, designed by Alvar Aalto. The building is a well-known landmark of Rovaniemi. Lappia Hall was built in two parts. The first part, including the music school, was completed in 1972, and the main part of the building used by the theater in 1975. Lappia Hall was the last building that Alvar Aalto saw completed before his death.

The undulating roof structure of the building resembles the fell landscape of Lapland. The curved shapes of the roof are illuminated in different colors, and in its evening outfit Lappia Hall is a particularly magnificent sight. Lappia Hall is a total work of art characteristic of the Aaltos. Aalto’s office designed not only the building but also the interior and furniture. From the outside, the building is finished with light rod-shaped ceramic tiles.

The floor surfaces of the interior of the building are covered with Lapland marble and the interior walls are decorated with dark shiny cobalt rod-shaped ceramic tiles. The unique architecture of Lappia Hall is specially designed for the use of cultural actors. The Rovaniemi Theatre / Lapland Regional Theatre, the Lapland Music and Dance Institute and the Rovaniemi School of Visual Arts currently operate in the building. Over the years, Lapland’s regional radio and Lapland’s regional museum have also operated there. The comprehensive renovation of the building was completed in 2015.

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.

Seaside museums – Architecture, art and home museums by the sea!

A self-guided museum tour around the Laajalahti bay, outside the usual tourist routes, reveals seven unique museum sites that can be experienced together or separately. In addition to the scenic surroundings, the sites are united under interesting architecture and the fact that they have originally been homes and / or workspaces. The Didrichsen Art Museum, Villa Gyllenberg and Gallen-Kallela museums also feature significant art collections and changing exhibitions.

In Alvar Aalto’s home and office building in Munkkiniemi you can take part in guided tours all year round. Aficionados of architecture and design will get an insight into the interesting life of the Aalto family and everyday life of architects’ office. During the visit, you can also explore the beautiful gardens surrounding the buildings.

On a guided tour in Tamminiemi you will learn about the house’s most famous and longest-lived inhabitant: president Urho Kekkonen (1900–1986), and discover the original interiors and design from the 1970s. Tamminiemi’s legendary tar-smelling, seaside sauna can also be visited during the summer season.

The nearby Seurasaari open-air museum comes alive in the summer. The beautiful and fascinating traditional Finnish buildings, immersed into the magnificent natural setting of the island, constitute a favourite destination for both Helsinki locals and travellers around.

There are as many as two high-quality art museums on the small Kuusisaari island. The Didrichsen Art Museum has 2-3 changing exhibitions each year. The neighbouring Villa Gyllenberg features museum’s permanent collection which includes, amongst other masterpieces, 38 works by Helene Schjerfbeck. In addition, the museum also organises changing exhibitions. On Saturdays during the summer, Kuusisaari can be reached also by water bus running between Market Square in the city centre and Kuusisaari.

The northern shore of Laajalahti bay also offers exciting museum experiences, as well as a pleasant museum café where visitors can spend a relaxing moment. The Gallen-Kallela Museum, located in a castle-like villa designed by artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela, presents the art and life of Gallen-Kallela and his contemporaries with changing exhibitions, as well as exhibitions of contemporary art. From April you can also cycle to the museum on a city bike.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Ekenäs Savings Bank

Alvar Aalto was chosen to design Ekenäs Savings Bank in 1962. The bank is located right in the center of Ekenäs town, within Raseborg city. From the market place of Ekenäs, the bank appears to be a two-storey building, but actually it has three stories altogether. The impressive marble façade, opening to the side of the market place of Ekenäs, is similar in style to the Enso-Gutzeit main building in Katajanokka, Helsinki. The other facades of the building are slammed brick. Alvar Aalto was given complete freedom in the design process; most of the interior spaces and furnishings are also his creation.

Construction began officially in the summer of 1967, and was completed in November of the same year with the roofing, followed by celebrations. The first tenants of the building gradually moved in as early as February 1968, while the bank’s operations did not move into the premises until March 1969. In 1967, the name competition for the new bank building was also announced, won by the Ekecenter – Tammikeskus. The official inauguration of the bank building was held on the 110th anniversary of the Savings Bank in August 1969. Drawings for the second phase of Aalto’s project were published in 1976. Extension work was completed in 1986 under supervision of architect Sverker Gardberg.

Ekenäs Savings Bank still operates in the building. The bank hall is located on the ground floor and a lunch restaurant called Piazza is located on the third floor of the building. The building has included restaurant services since 1968.

Aalto also designed a restaurant to the upper floor of the bank building. Nowadays restaurant Piazza, with interiors inspired by Aalto, welcomes lunch goers

Restaurant Piazza also offers, upon request, a special Bank Manager menu, alongside a brief introduction to the interesting history of the building.

The Bank Manager’s menu includes:

  • Appetizer served to tables (mushroom soup served in a cup)
  • Main course from the buffet (fish, vegetable or meat option)
  • Desserts served to tables (small treat)

The Bank Manager’s menu features high-quality, locally produced ingredients and includes favourite delicacies selected by the current Bank Manager at the Ekenäs Savings Bank. The price for the dinner is € 35 per person. The Piazza is also suitable for groups (a minimum of 10 people) throughout the year, from 4 pm to 8 pm on weekdays or at weekends, and also during lunch time.

In addition to the dining experience, you can also have a guided tour of the old town of Ekenäs. Guided tours can be ordered in Finnish, Swedish and English. Another design by Alvar Aalto, Villa Skeppet, is located within walking distance from the old town. Villa Skeppet will open to the public in December 2020. 

Inquiries and reservations to the Piazza restaurant are handled by Päivi Purontaus, tel +358 50 387 1277, email

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.