Bertel Strömmer (1890–1962) designed buildings in several parts of Finland but is known especially for his work in developing the cityscape of Tampere. Born in Ikaalinen and schooled in Tampere, Strömmer graduated as an architect from the Helsinki University of Technology in 1913. In 1919, he founded his own architecture office. Alongside his design work, Strömmer was a keen photographer of the cityscape and life in Tampere.
Strömmer’s first works were based on the thematics of Art Nouveau. In the office of Wäinö Gustaf Palmqvist and Einar Sjöström where he worked during his studies, Strömmer was able to follow the work of more experienced architects from a close distance. Palmqvist and Sjöström had given up the decorative form of Romantic nationalism and proceeded to design monumental, red-brick buildings that were relatively modern at the time.
After graduating, Strömmer worked in the office of Eliel Saarinen. During this time, Strömmer got to live in Saarinen’s studio home, Hvitträsk, but after the war broke out and the economic situation became worse, Strömmer had to return to the Tampere region. In 1915, Strömmer went to work for the City of Tampere and later became the municipal architect of Tampere. He worked in this position for 35 years until 1953, and had a strong influence in the development of the cityscape.
Strömmer’s design style changed several times throughout his career, which can be seen in the architecture of Tampere city centre. During his earlier career he designed buildings with classicist tendencies but started to favour simplified Functionalism already in the 1930s. One of Strömmer’s key works in Tampere is the Grand Hotel Tammer (1927–1929), which is an example of 1920s Classicism with a gently sloping pitched roof, smooth plastered facade, and simplified decorations.
In the 1930s, Strömmer designed several functionalistic buildings in Tampere, such as the Tampere Bus Station (1938) and the Tempo House (1939). He also designed buildings in other Finnish towns such as Kemi, Forssa and Pori, and one of his major works was the Merikoski Hydropower Plant in Oulu (1942).
After the Second World War, Strömmer abandoned the simplified Modernism and added cosiness into his design. He retired from his position as the municipal architect of Tampere at the age of 63, after which he still continued to design in his own office until the end of his life in 1962.