Industrial history and the Tampella Co. Housing Area in Inkeroinen

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.

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 not only several industrial buildings but also various residential houses plus modifications and expansions to the existing buildings. The paper mill was modernised in the 1980s, and Stora Enso acquired Tampella’s mill in 1993.

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.

The buildings 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.

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.

Entrance hall of Inkeroinen Tehtaanmäki elementary school photo Maija Holma Alvar Aalto Foundation
Entrance hall of Inkeroinen Tehtaanmäki elementary school photo Maija Holma Alvar Aalto Foundation
Inkeroinen Tehtaanmäki Elementary School photo Maija Holma Alvar Aalto Foundation
Inkeroinen Tehtaanmäki Elementary School photo Maija Holma Alvar Aalto Foundation
Alvar Aalto house for factory worker at Rantalinja in Inkeroinen Kouvola
Alvar Aalto house for factory worker at Rantalinja in Inkeroinen Kouvola

Destination on the map

1. Industrial history and the Tampella Co. Housing Area in Inkeroinen

Information for visitors

Good to know

Arriving to Inkeroinen

Inkeroinen is located approximately 140 kilometres away from Helsinki. From Helsinki the best way to reach Inkeroinen with public transport is via Kouvola. From Helsinki to Kouvola you can either take a train or a Matkahuolto or Onnibus bus. From the Kouvola Travel Centre you can take a bus or train to reach the Aalto sites in Inkeroinen. The distance is approx. 23 kilometres. The timetables of the local bus traffic be found here. The tickets can be bought from the driver. Search for railway connections here. The train stop closest to the destination is Inkeroinen, which approximately 2 km away.

Read more about Kouvola region

The map and brochures are available at VisitKouvola website


Guided tours

In the summer of 2019, the tourist guides in Kouvola arrange a walking tour of 1½ hours every Wednesday between 5th of June and 28th of August at 17.30 o’clock.

The tour starts at the address Mäntyrinne 1, Tehtaanmäki, Inkeroinen, and
finishes at the Church of Tehtaanmäki, which will be visited also inside.

During the Kouvola Housing Fair special tours are available between 13.7.-10.8.2019.

Further information on the walking tours is available from Visit Kouvola.
tel. +358 20 615 5295, weekdays 9.00 to 15.00 email: