Väinö Vähäkallio (1886–1959) was one of the most prolific and recognised Finnish architects in the 1920s and 30s. The modernisation of Finnish society provided Vähäkallio professional opportunities in industry, education, living, business and leisure.
Vähäkallio studied architecture at the Polytechnical Institute of Helsinki (later Helsinki University of Technology, today Aalto University) and graduated in 1909. After graduation, he worked in architect Vilho Penttilä’s office. However, after only a year, in 1911, he founded his own office, which was in operation until 1941.
In 1920–1936, Vähäkallio acted as the house architect for Suomen Matkailijayhdistys [The Travellers’ Association of Finland] and, in 1928–34, also for Kulutusosuuskuntien Keskusliitto [Consumer Co-operations’ Central Union]. Hence, his handprint can be seen in several industrial, office and hospitality complexes. In 1936, Vähäkallio became the first Director General of the National Board of Public Buildings (Rakennushallitus) and continued in the position until 1943.
Vähäkallio’s architecture has traits of the typically Nordic style, the 1920s classicism, and functionalism, although his functionalism often departs from the mainstream. Typical features of Vähäkallio’s architecture are red tile facades, decorative interiors and corner towers. The architect’s career includes projects of all scales and types, from single public buildings to industrial environments. Some 150 realised projects from his portfolio still remain.
Väinö Vähäkallio was a versatile architect. He had good networks and expertise in new building technologies. He worked in various architectural positions, such as a planner, designer, project leader, networker, decision-maker and developer. During his late years, Vähäkallio donated land property parcelled out from his family-owned Kytäjä mansion estate to the Finnish Association of Architects to be used as a recreational cottage village by architects.
1886 born June 16 in Helsinki
1905 matriculation from Helsinki Finnish Real Lyceum
1909 graduated as an architect from the Polytechnical Institute of Helsinki
1911 private architecture firm in Helsinki
1959 died March 20 in Helsinki