Finlandia Hall and Congress Center
Mannerheimintie 13 e

00100 Helsinki
Finland

 

Alvar Aalto 1969-1971 (Congress Center wing 1973)

 

Built late in Aalto's career, Finlandia Hall was ensvisaged as one of several big cultural institutions that Aalto was to design in the area. His master plan, first presented in 1961, would have made the whole district more urban and centered on the car; it did not happen, leaving Finlandia Hall in an imposing position in its still relatively natural surroundings.

 

Finlandia Hall is a careful blend of the monumental and the democratic. On the east facade (above), the scale of the building is dramatic, the strong horizontal emphasised by the deep recess of the ground floor, and the auditorium rising above the facade to its full height. The staircases projecting out from the facade, faced in stark white marble in contrast to the bands of vertical windows covering the rest, give a monumental sense even to the human-scaled stairs (a variation of a theme Aalto first used twenty years earlier in Baker House at MIT). Yet the pedestrian entrance to Finlandia Hall, on the west side from Mannerheimintie, shows a very different, more domestic and informal composition (below): the auditorium at its minimum wall height, an asymmetric entrance leading to a single-story colonnade.

 

 

The blend of monumental and democrating continues inside the building, with extensive foyers that are dramatic yet accessible at human scale.

 

 

The Congress Center at the south end of the site was added in 1973. It is most striking for its facade, shaped as a series of concave bays to fit around existing trees.

 

 

Simon Glynn 2010

 


 

How to visit

 

Finlandia Hall is on Mannerheimintie in the center of Helsinki, a few minutes walk northwest from the train station, past Kiasma.

 

One-hour guided tours of the building are available, in addition to going to concerts and events. For further information please visit www.finlandiatalo.fi/en.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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