See and Experience Alvar Aalto in Seinäjoki
See and Experience Alvar Aalto in Seinäjoki!
Alvar Aalto in Seinäjoki
The Aalto Centre in Seinäjoki is an internationally unique architectural complex. Seinäjoki is also home to the civil guard’s headquarters – built in 1925, this building is the only architectural design from Aalto’s youth that has survived unaltered to date. The Aalto Centre is comprised of six buildings and Kansalaistori – “the Citizens’ Square” – built in 1988.
The architect, designer and scholar Alvar Aalto was born on 3 February 1898 in Kuortane, South Ostrobothnia. Aalto is Finland’s most notable and best-known architect.
The form language of Aalto’s architecture evolved from the clear functionalism of his early career towards a more diverse modernistic expression, of which the Aalto Centre is a prime example.
Aalto had an exceptionally long and diverse career designing glass, furniture, individual buildings and cultural centres as well as entire housing areas, industrial complexes and town centres. In his architecture, Aalto sought to retain the connection between man and nature. He designed each of his buildings as a complete work of art, down to the last detail.
Lakeuden Risti Church
In 1951, Aalto entered an architectural competition organised by the town of Seinäjoki in search of an architect to design a church for the small but rapidly evolving market town. The competition jury chose Aalto’s submission titled “Lakeuksien Risti”, noting that it was a superior plan. The roof of the cathedral falls and narrows towards the choir, and the floor slopes down towards the altar. The light fittings, chandeliers, communion silverware and altar textiles were all designed by Aalto, as were the stained glass window of the chapel and the fountain at the foot of the church tower.
Opening hours: Monday–Friday 2pm–6pm
Summer season (6 June–7 August) Monday–Sunday 11am–6pm
Also open during special events and by special arrangement.
The Parish Centre
Aalto designed the churchyard inside the Parish Centre so that it could accommodate outdoor events. In the parish hall, the acoustic cladding is made from common beech and the pews are made from red-hearted pine. These same wood types were also used in the interiors of the Lakeuden Risti church. The 213-foot church tower is a famous Seinäjoki landmark. The tower can be accessed by a lift.
Opening hours: Open during functions.
The dark blue ceramic tiles on the City Hall’s facade glimmer and change their appearance in different light conditions. ”The facade must be that of the Seinäjoki City Hall and of nowhere else,”, Aalto wrote in his reasoning for the material choice.
In the tall, tower-like assembly hall of the city council, the councillors’ seats are placed radially across the room. The same layout is repeated in the building’s facade. The west wing of the City Hall was originally created as a living space and converted into office space in the 1970s and 80s.
Opening hours: Weekdays 9am–3pm
The fan shape of the library’s main room is the most striking feature of the building. Light falls through the slatted windows of the room and casts beautiful shapes on the ceiling, walls and shelves. The restored Aalto-designed library was opened in May 2015. The old library was connected to the neighbouring new-build library via a basement floor. The Aalto information desk is located in the Aalto library.
Opening hours: Monday–Friday 10am–7pm, Saturday 10am–3pm
Summer season (1 June-31 August) Monday–Thursday 10am–7pm, Friday 10am–5pm
Central Government Offices
Aalto completed the administrative complex with a white-rendered, three-storey office building. He wanted to create an end point for the axis that started from the church and crossed through the Citizens’ Square – “a calm background building,” as Aalto is known to have described it. The architecturally most significant part of the building is the district court, which today is used as a meeting facility. Over the years, the office building has been home to the inland revenue service and the police.
Alvar Aallon katu 9
Opening hours: Weekdays 9am–3pm
Alvar Aalto designed the theatre in 1968, but it wasn’t completed until 1987, under the supervision of Elissa Aalto. The facade is constructed of dim white ceramic blocks. The airy foyer is furnished with Artek pieces and houses Aalto’s unique collection of bent wood reliefs. The curtain of the Alvar Stage is titled Daedalus, and was designed by Juhana Blomstedt.
Alvar Aallon katu 12
Opening hours: Box office Tuesday-Friday 11am–5pm, Saturday 12 noon–5pm; on performance nights until curtain-up.
The box office is closed in the summer season.
Civil Guard’s Headquarters
The Suojeluskunta & Lotta Svärd Museum operates in the headquarters of the South Ostrobothnia Civil Guard designed by Alvar Aalto. This three-storey building represents refined neoclassicism and includes features from functionalism and Ostrobothnian building traditions. Some of the interiors, furniture, light fittings and decorative details were also designed by Aalto.
In addition to the main building, Aalto’s design includes the two-storey brick outdoor building, the wooden shed and the pergola. The buildings and the yard were assigned protected building status in 2002. One of the reasons for the decision was that the interiors of the main building still retain some of the original 1925 materials and paint surfaces. The Suojeluskuntalainen statue represents a civil guard and was sculpted by Professor Pentti Papinaho.
The main building houses exhibition and meeting rooms, an information point and a museum shop. The outbuilding has further exhibition spaces and the museum’s back office.
Opening hours: Wed 12 noon–6pm, Thu, Fri and Sun 12 noon–4pm
Summer season (1 June–31 August) Tue–Wed 12 noon–7pm, Thu–Sun 12 noon–5pm
GUIDED TOURS To book a trained guide to take you around the Aalto Centre, contact Etelä-Pohjanmaan Matkailu,
tel. +358 (0)6 420 9090 and +358 (0)6 420 9091.
Guided tours in Seinäjoki are given by authorised members of the Seinäjoen Oppaat tourist guide association and trained Aalto guides.
Aalto Brochures and Videos
Aalto-keskus Seinäjoki 2016 (pdf, 1.26 Mt)
The Aalto Centre Seinäjoki 2016 (English) (pdf, 1.27 Mt)
Aalto-keskus Seinäjoki 2016 (japani) (pdf, 1.33 Mt)
Alvar Aalto Seinäjoki (suomi, English, svenska) (pdf, 4.01 Mt)
Seinäjoen ylpeys Aalto-keskus (pdf, 0.38 Mt)
The Aalto Centre, the pride of Seinäjoki (pdf, 0.38 Mt)
Seinäjokis stolthet Aalto-centret (pdf, 0.38 Mt)
Maailman suurin Aalto-lasikokoelma (pdf, 1.76 Mt)
Aalto Video 2016
The video shot by Katja Lösönen shows how the Aalto Centre is made for people: it is a place for work, celebration and recreation. The video was made in 2016.