Seinäjoki Civic Centre

As an architectural whole, the Seinäjoki Civic Centre, or Administrative and Cultural Centre of Seinäjoki, is unique on a global scale. Seinäjoki is also the location of the Defence Corps Building built in 1924-26, one of the rare works from Aalto’s youth. The Administrative and Cultural Centre consists of six buildings and the Civic Square completed in 1988.

Aalto Centre

The Administrative and Cultural Centre in Seinäjoki emerged from two architectural competitions, and it was built in 1958 to 1988.

Alvar Aalto won a church architecture competition arranged by the Parish of Seinäjoki with his plan “Lakeuksien risti”, Cross of the Plains, in 1951. Seven years later, he won the design competition for the centre of Seinäjoki. Aalto was commissioned to design the town hall, library, theatre and government office building, all of which he had outlined in his competition suggestion.

Aalto’s architectural office designed not only the buildings of the Administrative and Cultural Centre but also the outdoor lighting fixtures, barriers, surface materials for yard areas and plants for the Centre.

Civic Square in Seinäjoki

Alvar Aalto’s plans for the centre of Seinäjoki were based on monumental but easily approachable squares and other open areas between public buildings. When Aalto was young, he admired the antique cultures, and this is reflected as a forum which was also influenced by the Italian piazzas.

The buildings around the Civic Square in Seinäjoki – the Town hall, Library and Seinäjoki theatre – border the square paved with granite paving and cobblestone. According to Aalto’s suggestion, the square was designed for conferences and summer meetings, and of course as a meeting place of citizens. Alvar Aalto wished that squares intended for the assembly of people would promote a “new renaissance” for the forming and exchange of opinions through social interaction.

The Aalto Centre was built gradually. The last part to be completed was the Civic Square with its fountain and plantings. The paving of the square continues on the eastern side across the street, linking the administrative and cultural buildings to the church buildings. This constitutes an overall work of art of six buildings and the square.

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.

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.

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.

Enso-Gutzeit Co. Headquarters

The Enso-Gutzeit Headquarters building was completed in the centre of Helsinki, in a prominent place in the Southern Harbour, in 1962. Now Stora Enso’s Headquarters, the building is one of Aalto’s most controversial works.

Aalto wanted to design a new head-office building to be part of Helsinki’s shoreline silhouette. The white Carrara marble chosen as the surface material links the building with the row of white facades on the North Esplanade. The building has six floors above ground level. The receding top floor creates room for a roof terrace. The building’s main entrance is through a portico.

The furnishings were carefully designed, right down to the smallest detail. Many of the pieces of furniture and light fittings were designed specifically for the building.

Rautatalo Office Building

The Rautatalo Office Building was completed in Helsinki’s city centre in 1955. The building got its name (‘Iron House’) from the federation of Finnish hardware dealers that commissioned it. The main space is the light court, or marble courtyard, that extends from the first floor upwards.

Aalto’s office won the architecture competition for the building in 1951. Progressive in its day, the interior of this office building was meticulously designed, right down to the details.

Shop premises were sited on the lower floors. The office floors are built around a covered marble courtyard. The details of the light court lit by natural light evoke the architecture of the Mediterranean countries.

The Rautatalo is still in use as an office building. The building itself and some of its valuable interiors are protected by the Act on the Protection of Buildings.

Ankkapurha past and present – an industrial community by the river Kymi in Kouvola

The tour starts off from the grounds of the Anjala Manor House, from the Makasiinikahvila café, and runs via the manor house milieu across the Ankkapurha rapids over to the Tehtaanmäki area presenting design by Alvar Aalto.

The Anjala Manor was built on the estate of the Wrede family. Finland was then a part of Sweden, and the family received the estate as a donation from King Charles IX of Sweden. Henrik Wrede from Livonia saved the life of the king, dying himself in the battle of Kircholm in 1605.

The history of the manor goes back to the 17th and 18th centuries. The present main building representing neoclassicism dates from the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries.

From the Anjala Manor House, we will move on in time and across the river to the Tehtaanmäki area with buildings designed by Alvar Aalto. The manor is associated with the history of Finland, with the era of manor houses and the first notions of Finnish independence. The Tehtaanmäki area emerged as a result of the period of rapid growth in the Finnish wood-processing industry in the 1870s. The area has expanded and transformed subsequently. In the 1930s the paper industry gained a more prominent position, and the everyday life and housing conditions of the workers gained new kind of attention.

Alvar Aalto was hired in the 1930s to design the Anjala Paper Mill and homes for the mill workers. A new type of working-class world was created: verdant and communal area built near the river, providing a setting for housing, school, interests and work. The houses designed by Aalto and the entire area are still used for their original purpose. These stages of life are the venue for living, playing tennis and working.

The tour participants can get to know buildings designed by Alvar Aalto, and the tour also includes an indoor attraction.

The tour will finish by lunch in the manor house milieu at restaurant Ankkapurhan Helmi.

House of Culture

The House of Culture was completed in 1958 close to the centre of Helsinki. It was designed as a multi-purpose building for the Communist Party of Finland. Apart from the concert hall, the building was intended to accommodate a variety of cultural activities.

The concert hall and theatre are in the redbrick, fan-shaped section of the building, and the office wing is in the rectangular section behind the copper façade. The main entrance is in a low section connecting the other two. The low canopy projecting over the entrance courtyard marks it off from the street, and links the parts of the building together.

With its Aalto furnishings and light fittings and its wealth of details, the House of Culture is protected by the Act on the Protection of Buildings. The building is in use as a concert and event venue.

Ode to architecture and culture – best of Lahti

The tour takes you to the buildings by the renowned Finnish architects Alvar Aalto and Eliel Saarinen, and to see some contemporary wooden architecture.

Transfer to Lahti from Helsinki. After arrival, guided wooden architecture tour in the Lahti harbour area. The wood architecture park is constructed in the vicinity of the Sibelius Hall in Lahti and it consists of buildings and structures designed by the winners of the international Spirit of Nature Wood Architecture Award. The tour also includes visits at the Sibelius Hall and Pro Puu “Pro Wood” Gallery, which promotes the collaboration of wood professionals. The premises include a gallery and shop.

Later on, transfer and lunch at Restaurant Roux, which was chosen Restaurant of the Year in 2016. After lunch it is time to explore the designs of Alvar Aalto and Eliel Saarinen in Lahti with a guide. During this guided walking tour, you will admire the work of Alvar Aalto and Eliel Saarinen. The tour starts from the Lahti City Hall designed by Eliel Saarinen (please note: short indoor tour is possible only during working hours). The Lahti City Hall was completed in 1912 and represents the art nouveau style. From the city hall the tour continues to the Church of the Cross designed by Alvar Aalto and completed in 1978. The acoustics of the church were designed by Alvar Aalto’s son, Hamilkar Aalto.

After the tour, transfer back to Helsinki.

Architecture and Turku during the Middle Ages

Travel back in time to medieval Turku and follow the footsteps of the modernist architects Alvar Aalto and Erik Bryggman.

The guided walking tour in Turku introduces you to the masterpieces of modern architecture and other interesting historical sites. After the tour we shall have a delicious lunch. After that the tour continues with medieval history of Turku, by the charter bus of the group. You can learn a lot about the history of Finland along the way.

Architect Alvar Aalto resided in Turku between 1927 and 1933. Turku played a significant role in the emergence of new architecture and furniture design. On this tour a guide will introduce you to the exterior of three transitional works of Aalto’s functionalism: Southwestern Finland Cooperative Building,Office building for Turun Sanomat newspaper and the Standard Apartment House.

Having established his own office here in Turku at the beginning of the 1920’s, Erik Bryggman was one of the earliest representatives of functionalism in Finnish architecture. Among others, the tour presents his Hotel Hospits, Atrium and Student Union buildings.

The attractions on the Medieval bus tour are Turku Cathedral, Turku Castle and the Aboa Vetus Museum. As the National Sanctuary of Finland since the 1300’s, Turku Cathedral is steeped in history. In addition to the cathedral you will discover much about old Turku at Aboa Vetus, where the excavated foundations reveal the medieval lanes of the old quarter and are left exposed for the fascination of visitors. The third destination – 700 year-old Turku Castle – offers much to experience. From the top floor, renaissance banquet halls and the round tower prisoner cells, to the scale models of the castle detailing its historical development through to the present day.