Mobile Workshops

Helsinki is well-known for its rich architecture ranging from the 18th century up to the present. The ELIA Leadership Symposium offers its participants the opportunity to engage in mobile workshops on the architecture in the Capital of Finland. Eight different three-hour excursions in small groups are led by professionals to different parts of the Helsinki metropolitan area. These visits to architectural monuments provide delegates with inside information on these unique places and interesting historical anecdotes.

1. Otaniemi's Modern University Campus in the 1950s and 1960s

After the Second World War, education became the central factor in Finland’s modernisation and social reconstruction, in which engineers and architects also played a major role. At the end of the 1950s Helsinki University of Technology (TKK), nowadays part of Aalto University, moved from the Helsinki city centre to Espoo, the western neighbouring municipality, which at the time was close to being in the countryside. In Otaniemi, they started to build an American style campus, designed by leading architects, that became regarded as a symbol of success in the 1960s.

Guide: Architect, Professor Emeritus Simo Paavilainen
Itinerary: Main building of the Aalto University School of Science and Technology and the library 1964-1969 (Alvar Aalto), Dipoli 1966 (Raili and Reima Pietilä), Otaniemi Chapel 1957 (Kaija and Heikki Siren). Participants following this tour will top off their tour with drink at Dipoli’s bar.

2. Layers  of Helsinki City 1: Business Life and Traffic from the Early 20th Century to Present Day

Helsinki’s growth accelerated in the late 19th century. Opportunities for architects were plentiful. The ambition of this period was matched only by the ferocity of competition between those wishing to make their mark on the emerging city. Helsinki was developed as a metropolis and as a capital; office buildings and traffic buildings attracted both financial and artistic investment. Helsinki Railway Station was built as a monument to modern connections and the Stockmann Department Store as the centre of consumer culture. In the beginning of the 1920s dreams of skyscrapers captured the city’s imagination but were forgotten by the1930s when the design of functionalist office buildings emphasised horizontal lines.

Guide: Docent of Aesthetics Kimmo Sarje
Itinerary: Central Railway Station 1904–1919 (Eliel Saarinen), Stockmann department store 1904–1930 & 1989 (Sigurd Frosterus & Kristian Gullichsen, Erkki Kairamo, Timo Vormala), Lasipalatsi 1936 (Niilo Kokko, Viljo Revell, Heimo Riihimäki), Hotel Torni 1931 (Bertel & Valter Jung). Participants following this tour will top off their tour with drink at Torni's bar.

3. Layers  of Helsinki City 2: Tradition and Art from the Early 20th Century to Present Day

When construction of the National Museum of Finland began in the early 20th century, its location in Töölö was far from the city centre.  As the years have passed, the area has grown into a cluster of culture and congress palaces: the National Museum of Finland, Finlandia Hall, Helsinki Music Centre, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma are all neighbours. National Romantic eclecticism was a natural choice for the National Museum of Finland’s style. Finlandia Hall, a venue for congresses and concerts, was covered with light coloured marble to indicate its status as a contemporary monument, whereas the starting point for the new Helsinki Music Centre’s design focused on moderate simplicity.

Guide: Architect, Professor Emeritus Vilhelm Helander
Itinerary: The National Museum of Finland 1902-1910 (Herman Gesellius, Armas Lindgren, Eliel Saarinen), Finlandia Hall 1971 (Alvar Aalto), Helsinki Music Centre 2011 (Marko Kivistö, Ola Laiho, Mikko Pulkkinen), Kiasma 1998 (Steven Holl). Participants following this route will top off their tour with drinks at the Kiasma’s restaurant.

4. Layers of Helsinki City 3: Politics and Art from the 1930s to Present Day

Finland became independent in 1917. The young republic wanted the Parliament House to play a central role in Helsinki’s cityscape and act as a symbol of democracy. The Parliament House was built on the rocky Arkadianmäki hill in the Töölö area. The winner of the architecture competition drew inspiration from Nordic Classicism. The rugged row of pillars of the façade and the red granite of the facing strengthen the monumental appearance. The building’s interior was designed in the spirit of classicism and Art Deco. Kunsthalle Helsinki, on the western side of the Parliament House, represent the same kind of Nordic Classicism of the time, but in a humble and unassuming way, without the pathos of the nation. The Concert Hall of Sibelius Academy features architecture representative of the transition from classicism to functionalism. The Parliament House also includes two annexes: modernist from the 1970s and post-modernist from 2004.

Guide: Docent of Art History Liisa Lindgren
Itinerary: Parliament House 1931 (J. S. Sirén), Finnish Parliament Annex aka. Little Parliament 2004 (Pekka Helin), Sibelius Academy's Concert Hall 1931 (Eino Forsman), Library Annex of the Parliament House 1977 -1978 (Pitkänen, Laiho, Raunio), Kunsthalle Helsinki 1928 (Hilding and Jarl Eklund). Participants following this route will top off their tour with drinks at Kunsthalle's restaurant.

5. Classicism in Helsinki from the Early 19th Century to the 1970s

Finland was separated from Sweden, its mother country of centuries, as a result of wars from 1808-1809. Finland became part of the Russian Empire as an autonomous Grand Duchy. In 1812 the capital was moved eastwards from Turku to Helsinki, closer to Russia’s centre of power in St. Petersburg. Helsinki’s city centre was built in a monumental empire-style by Johan Albrecht Ehrenström (1762-1847), who was in charge of the town plan, and by German-born Architect Carl Engel (1778-1840). The buildings of Helsinki Senate Square– the Government Palace, the Helsinki Cathedral, the University of Helsinki and its library – as well as some of the important buildings of the Market Square, such as the City Hall and the current Presidential Palace, are all Engel’s designs.

Guide: Professor of Art History Ville Lukkarinen
Itinerary: Helsinki Cathedral 1830-1852, Main Building of the University of Helsinki 1832 (Carl Engel), new side of the Main Building of the University of Helsinki 1937 (J.S. Sirén), the National Archives of Finland 1890, the House of the Estates 1891(Gustaf Nyström), main lobby of the City Hall of Helsinki 1965-1970 (Aarno Ruusuvuori). Participants following this route will to top off their tour with drinks at the Kappeli bar.

6. Romanticism and Orthodoxy in Helsinki from the 19th Century to Present Day

Finland is considered to be a republic of the bourgeoisie and workers; however, the nobility is also part of the Finnish tradition. In Helsinki, the Neo-Gothic House of Nobility was completed in 1862 as a symbol of the nobles’ leverage and also as a stage for the Diet of Finland – the legislative assembly of the Grand Duchy - from1863-1864. Finland is often also considered to be a homogenous Evangelical-Lutheran nation. Historically, the borderline of Eastern and Western Rome did go through Finland. Therefore, Reformed Christianity and Eastern Orthodox are both part of the Finnish identity. The skyline of Helsinki’s South Harbour shows the Evangelical-Lutheran Helsinki Cathedral side-by-side with the Orthodox Uspenski Cathedral rising on the rock of Katajanokka. The Katajanokka area is also known for its National Romantic architecture, harbour warehouses, and a prison, which nowadays functions as a hotel.

Guide: Docent of Art History Renja Suominen-Kokkonen
Itinerary: House of Nobility 1862(G. Th. Chiewitz), Uspenski Cathedral 1862–1868 (Aleksei M. Gornostajev), two residential buildings in Katajanokka (Gesellius, Lindgren, Saarinen), Old Customs Warehouse (Gustaf Nyström), Harbour Warehouse (Lars Sonck), Warehouse (Erkki Huttunen). Participants following this route will top off their tour with drinks at Hotel Katajanokka’s bar. The hotel used to be a prison, which was designed by A. F. Granstedt (1837) and Selim A. Lindqvist (1903). SARC Architects are in charge of the alteration work (2007).

7. Russian and Swedish Helsinki from the 18th and 19th Centuries

Sveaborg aka Suomenlinna, was the largest fortress built in Sweden in the 18th century. Together with its ally France, Sweden was preparing itself against Russia by building a sea fortress with a navy in front of Helsinki, calling it the ‘Gibraltar of the North’. This grand project, which began in 1748, became a major factor militarily, economically, as well as culturally.
As a result of the Dano-Swedish War of 1808-1809, Finland was separated from Sweden and became part of the Russian Empire. The Tsar wanted to strengthen the union by moving the capital from Turku in 1812 eastwards to Helsinki, closer to St. Petersburg. Helsinki’s city centre was built in a monumental empire-style by Johan Albrecht Ehrenström (1762-1847).  In the middle of the Senate Square, there is a monument of Alexander II and on shore of the Market Square, the Stone of the Empress – an obelisk, which was put up in honour of the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna’s first visit to Helsinki.

Guide: Professor Emeritus of History Matti Klinge
Itinerary: From the Senate Square to Suomenlinna: Helsinki Cathedral 1830-1852, Senate Square, statue of Alexander II 1894 (Johannes Takanen & Walter Runeberg), Swedish Embassy 1920s (A. F. Granstedt 1843 & Torben Grut), the Stone of the Empress 1835 (Carl Engel), ferry to Suomenlinna, Russian barracks, Ehrensvärd’s fortress architecture in the 1750s and 1760s, Augustin Ehrensvärd’s grave 1805 (Gustav III & Johan Tobias Sergel). Participants following this route will top off their tour with drinks at the Jetty Barracks’ restaurant.


8. Arabianranta: Public Art in a New Residential Area

Arabianranta is a historically multi-layered new area. The area’s industrial centre is the renowned Arabia porcelain factory, which became the facilities for the University of Art and Design Helsinki in the 1980s. Nowadays the University of Art and Design Helsinki is a part of Aalto University. Arabianranta is also a new residential area, which has been developed ambitiously. Many of the residential buildings are designed by leading architects. In addition, the City of Helsinki has invested in public art pieces in Arabianranta, where they apply the ‘percent principle’. This means that a certain part of the construction costs are used for art procurements and environment art. The best-known art project is the Tapio Wirkkala Park, which is designed by Robert Wilson, a Director best known as the foremost vanguard theatre artist of The United States.

Guide: Architect, Professor Pentti Kareoja
Itinerary: Tapio Wirkkala Park 2013 (Robert Wilson), Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, as the Media Centre Lume, the Heltech Audio Visual Communications building, new residential buildings, public art projects.  Participants following this route will top off their tour with drinks at a local bar.


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