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Seinäjoki City Theatre

Seinäjoki City Theatre

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.
Restaurant: 7:30am–2:00pm.

Listen more on theatre here: https://tarinasoitin.fi/seinajoenaalto/en/theatre

Aalto-story:
An all-encompassing theatrical experience

Anneli is very happy when the Seinäjoki City Theatre is finally completed in 1987. She has purchased tickets to the opening show, Symposium, for herself and for Matti-Alvari, who is interested in the world of theatre. She is also excited that her son will get away from his university studies for the weekend and come home for the first time in a long time.

By now it has been almost 20 years since Alvar Aalto drafted the main drawings for the Seinäjoki theatre. The completion of the Seinäjoki administrative centre was delayed for many reasons, however. The greatest reason was that our country concentrated closely on building a welfare society during the turn of the 1960s-1970s. Things were builtfor children, youth, the sick and the elderly. This meant that construction of cultural institutions shifted to the back burner.

In Seinäjoki, the theatre was even envisaged in another location, but in the end it wound up in the location in Aalto’s site plan. Aalto’s wish that he might come to Seinäjoki once more in his lifetime to see the whole administrative centre completed did not happen. The theatre was completed posthumously under the direction of Elissa Aalto – 11 years after Alvar Aalto died. The theatre was constructed according to Aalto’s design as much as was possible in the changed circumstances.

Anneli and Matti-Alvari arrive in the theatre’s lower foyer. It is full of people, but the space still feels expansive. While waiting for the coat hooks, Matti-Alvari’s attention is caught by the floor tiles, where he seems to see images shaped like herring bones. ‘You saw correctly’, Anneli remarks. ‘I’ve heard that this flooring is made of limestone tiles from Öland and over time, fossil figures have become engraved in them.’

Before the start of the show, mother and son have time to enjoy pastries and coffee in the theatre’s restaurant. Anneli finds the theatre restaurant, which is furnished with Artek furniture and lamps, very beautiful. She feels like she could sit in the wicker chair forever.

Anneli and Matti-Alvari go up the theatre’s stairs. The upper foyer is full of people who have come for the opening. The atmosphere is somehow anticipatory and festive. Once they step into the main stage auditorium, Anneli whispers to her son: ‘Look, what an amazing curtain!’ Previously, Anneli has only seen red velvet curtains in theatre halls. This is something totally different. The curtain reminds Anneli of a giant, broad abstract painting, where large squares shine in primary colours, with white, grey and black lending wings to overall effect. She has heard that the curtain was designed by a renowned Finnish artist, whose name she can’t remember just now. Anneli and Matti-Alvari take their places on the wide, black bench. The hall darkens and the show begins. (the story continues after the illustration)

Aalto-tarina: teatteri

As they walk out of the theatre after the show, Anneli and Matti-Alvari wonder at the feeling that lingers after the visit to the theatre. The modern and reductionist setting of the new theatre, yet with its luxurious interiors, and the unusual show have created in their minds a whole which they would like to still remember around an evening cup of tea.

At home, Matti-Alvari tells his mother that for some time now, he has been dating a nice girl. He reveals that they are actually secretly engaged and says he will soon bring the girl to meet her. He also says that they intend to get married the following summer. He goes on to say that they’re thinking of holding he wedding in Seinäjoki.

The following day, an early autumn day, Anneli and Matti-Alvari have each decided on their own to pop by the Lakeuden Risti tower, where Matti-Alvari has not been before. Over time the Lakeuden Risti Church with its tower has become one of Alvar Aalto’s most internationally recognised works among the general public. The Seinäjoki Aalto Centre has begun to draw tourists interested in Alvar Aalto’s architecture, even from abroad.

It is possible to go up the Lakeuden Risti tower by climbing stairs, but Anneli and Matti-Alvari resort to the elevator. At the top, Matti-Alvari pushes the tower’s heavy iron door open. An early autumn gust of wind takes hold of their hair when they step out onto the tower’s concrete floor.

The Lakeuden Risti bell tower forms a cross, which functions as a viewing platform for the South-Ostrobothnian landscape on all sides. Anneli and Matti-Alvari realise that the views are better than they imagined. From here, one can make out the whole city, the central hospital, Jouppila Mountain, schools, and gaze further and further out to the horizon and toward the rest of the province. They especially admire how the administrative buildings of the Aalto Centre look from a bird’s eye view.

Suddenly Anneli has an idea: ‘What do you say, Matti-Alvari – could you two be married next summer here in the tower!?’ ‘Hmmmm’, mumbles Matti-Alvari. ‘Here, eh? Well, I’ll have to think about that. Here we’re pretty much at the mercy of the weather, since there’s no roof. But this would be quite a unique place for a wedding.’ Matti-Alvari promises to mention his mother’s idea to his girlfriend, however. Anneli, meanwhile, asks the congregation whether a wedding in the tower would be possible.

Text: Marjo Kamila and Kari Hernesniemi (Oddmob)
Images: Kari Hernesniemi (Oddmob)

Read the whole story from here.

Aalto inspiroi
Alvar Aalto cities Seinäjoki

Seinäjoki City Theatre

• Built posthumously according to Aalto’s designs under the direction and supervision of architect Elissa Aalto from 1986-87.

• The curtain was designed by the artist Juhana Blomstedt.

• Originally the building was supposed to be a concert hall and congress centre in addition to a theatre.

• The theatre now has four stages: as the largest, the 429-seat Alvar Hall; the smaller Elissa Hall; the Workshop Theatre and Aino Stage, as well as a theatre restaurant, where performances can also be put on.

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