This year we grabbed our woolly hats and gloves and headed off to Finland to experience the architecture of the capital city, Helsinki. Despite the cold temperature the weather stayed dry, and the warm Autumn colours provided the perfect backdrop to the buildings on our agenda.
Day one began with a short tram ride from the city centre to the Munkkiniemi neighbourhood, the location of the Aalto house and studio. The modestly-sized, two storey house was designed by Alvar Aalto and first wife, Aino in the 1930’s doubling as their studio until the practice grew too big and they moved to the (also self-designed) studio a short walk away. The team were encouraged to explore the buildings in their entirety by the tour guides, pressing the importance of Aalto's design both inside and out. Scroll for images
On day two, we created our own tour, with Sarah, Patrycia and Emma volunteering to introduce a significant building to the rest of the team. They chose;
- The Aalto-designed Finlandia Hall, with its pristine angular East façade and wave-shaped West façade which curves to allow for the shape of the existing forest.
- The Oodi Library by ALA Architects with a striking curved timber façade and extensive community facilities inside such as craft and maker rooms, reading areas and ‘book heaven’, the library on the top floor.
- The Kamppi Chapel of Silence designed by K2S Architects, another unusually-shaped timber structure offering a place for calm and contemplation in the busy Helsinki centre.
We decided to finish our tour in the Temppeliaukion kirkko by architects Timo and Tuomo Suomalaine. One of Finland's most popular attractions, the ‘Rock Church’ interior was excavated and built directly out of the site's granite rock. The curved skylight, distinctive copper dome, stone altar and wall of prayer candles, all made for an incredible, inspiring and calming place to end our tour of Helsinki. Scroll for images
The ultimate goal of the architect...is to create a paradise. Every house, every product of architecture... should be a fruit of our endeavour to build an earthly paradise for people.
Alvar Aalto, Finnish architect, 1957