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National Pensions Institute, Housing Area

Address: Riihitie 12, 00330 Helsinki, Finland Open Google map

Entrance fee: Viewable from the outside

Themes: Aalto homes, Block of flats, Red brick, Residential areas

Website: Alvar Aalto Foundation

Seen in the cityscape the redbrick high-rise blocks form an integrated whole. Alvar Aalto designed these blocks of flats in Munkkiniemi, Helsinki, for the employees of the Social Insurance Institution of Finland. The collaboration with the National Pensions Insitute and the Aalto’s had already begun a couple years before. Aino and Alvar Aalto won the architectural competition to design an office complex for the National Pensions Institute in Helsinki in 1949. Nowadays these buildings are operated by a normal housing cooperative.

In total there are 4 high-rise buildings and they are located on Riihitie 12-14 and Tallikuja 2-4. The layout of the buildings as well as their volume and details form a rich housing complex to the neighborhood. Three of the four buildings are rectangular but one located on the corner has a meandering lay out.  

The four and five storey buildings were sited beside the street, leaving plenty of room for the buildings’ yard area. The idea was that the buildings would shelter the yard area from the traffic in the street. Aalto planned a paved, open area – a piazza – adjoining the buildings, with a fountain. The fountain and small day-care centre building also planned to go beside the piazza were not built. The open area, raised slightly above street level, and the other yard and street areas form a nuanced whole. Originally a grocery store operated in the ground floor of one of the buildings. This public composition was accentuated with a arcade corridor on the street side elevation. Nowadays some of the ground floors of the buildings are occupied by various offices.

The quite light tone of the the red brick were designed especially for these block of flats in H.G. Paloheimo Oy. The housing area is view-able from the outside.

Aalto knew Munkkiniemi well. At the start of the 1930s, he designed a residential area for the M.G. Stenius company, but it was not built. He was also a member of the Munkkiniemi building committee in 1937–39. Both The Aalto House and Studio Aalto are also located in Munkkiniemi.

The balconies look out on to the yard. Picture: Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Foundation

Blocks of flats in Munkkiniemi, Helsinki, were designed for the employees of the Social Insurance Institution of Finland. Picture: Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Foundation

The layout of the buildings as well as their volume and details form a rich housing complex to the neighbourhood.
Kansaneläkelaitoksen asuinalue, Helsinki
The loft floor is intended to be used differently from the residential floors, and this is reflected in the different brick-overlap pattern in the facade. Picture: Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Foundation

Information for visitors

Good to know

Arriving to Munkkiniemi

The housing area of the National Pensions Institute is only viewable from the outside as they are in private use. They are located very near to the Aalto House on Riihitie 20. From the city centre of Helsinki you can take a tram 4 to Munkkiniemi. The closest stop for seeing these buildings is “Laajalahden aukio”. Read more about public transport in Helsinki.

National Pensions Institute

National Pensions Institute is located close to the city centre of Helsinki on Nordenskiöldinkatu 12. It is located within good reach of public transport. This building is viewable from the outside or with a guided tour. Guided tours at the building are held on Monday’s at 2 pm. Please note that you need to book on the previous week by Wednesday the latest. Please contact for bookings.

Read more about National Pensions Institute

Read more about Aalto’s architecture in Helsinki