Architecture in Helsinki

The architecture of Helsinki is worth studying, and it is also easy because most of the major buildings are located within a walking distance from each other. The sights presented are also introduced in the Walking in Helsinki guide available at the Helsinki City Tourist Office.

This list has been compiled by architect Jukka vesanen, .

Seurasaari Open-Air Museum

Senaatintori Square

The Senaatintori Square is the most well-known symbol of Helsinki, and one of the most popular tourist sites of the city. The square was created in the early 19th century by City Planning Engineer Johan Albrecht Ehrenström and architect Carl Ludvig Engel. When designing the new square, Ehrenström used influences from other neo-classical squares in Europe, most of all the Gustav Adolf Square in Stockholm. Ehrenström focused on symmetry. The dimensions of the north side of the square had to be symmetrical, and the facades of buildings placed on the east and west sides of the square also needed to be symmetrical.

Helsinki University Library

Helsinki Railway Station

Contemporary Art Museum Kiasma

Parliament House

Designed by Johan Sigfrid Sirén, the Parliament House has been part of the Finnihs national landscape and identity since 1931. It was built in 1926–1931. The Parliament House is a classic 1920s building. It is 25 metres tall and its volume is 107,965 cubic metres. The facade includes fourteen columns with stylised Corinthian tops.

Built as the monument of independence and democracy, the Parliament House is a complete piece of art where architecture, design, handicraft and visual arts create a unified entity based on the architectural terms. Indoors, the details also include simplified functionalism and decorative art deco elements.

Sirén has also designed the furniture, light fixtures and several other details in the most important rooms. The plan was to use mostly Finnish materials in the interior elements. The furniture are manufactured from flamy and curly birch stained dark brown, oak and hazel. The furniture in the assembly hall and the Speaker of the Parliament are manufactured from South African jacaranda, however.

Finnish National Museum

The national romantic Finnish National Museum building was designed by architects Herman Gesellius, Armas Lindgren and Eliel Saarinen. Completed in 1910, the building’s entrance hall ceiling includes frescoes with motifs from the Finnish national

epic Kalevala, painted by Akseli Gallen-Kallela. The frescoes were painted in 1928, and they were modelled based on frescoes painted by Gallen-Kallela for the Finnish Pavilion at the Paris World Exhibition of 1900.

The architecture of the building includes influences of Finnish churches and castles from the Middle Ages as well as global art nouveau, especially in the entrance hall. The museum was opened for the public in 1916. The latest renovation was completed in 2000.

Finlandia House

Designed by architect Alvar Aalto, the Finlandia House was completed in 1971. It is a magnificent piece of art, with all the details – even the door handles and light fixtures – designed by Aalto. The Finlandia House includes several details which Alvar Aalto designed during his lifetime of working with monumental buildings.

The building is not the creation of a functionalist but, quite the opposite, a combination of decorative cubistic forms which create a versatile entity. None of the elements are merely decorative: Aalto still remained loyal to his functionalist principles. He always sought practical motives for the forms he used.

The leading idea of the Finlandia House is a tower-like part that includes a slanted roof over the entire building. Aalto believed that the acoustic solution would be better if he left an empty echo space above the hall.

Olympic Stadium

The central arena of the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, the Olympic Stadium, is Finland’s largest sports venue. Designed by Yrjö Lindegren and Toivo Jäntti, the stadium was built in several stages. The construction of the functionalistic stadium started in 1934, and the first construction stage was completed four years later, in 1938.

The stadium tower is 72 metres tall. The stadium building is 243 metres tall and 159 metres wide at its widest point. The stadium also includes a Sports Museum and a lodge designed by Toivo Jäntti.

Temppeliaukio Church

The Temppeliaukio Church in Töölö, Helsinki is one of the finest modern Finnish churches. Designed in 1961 by architects Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen, the church was inaugurated in 1969. Since then, it has been one of the most popular architectural sights in Helsinki. The church has been excavated into the bedrock, and the light to the church hall comes from a line of large windows close to the ceiling. The acoustic elements are excellent because the church is manufactured from stone.

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