Helsinki YWCA House
Architects Armas Lindgren and Wivi Lönn designed a clinic and apartment building for the Estonian ophthalmologist Friedrich Akel, constructed in 1911–12. The house has commercial and domestic spaces on four levels.
The street side façade is symmetrical with two rounded bay window sections reaching over two floors topped with an articulated tiled roof. With its elegant façade ornamentation, the building represents the style which in Estonia is called Nordic Jugendstil. Traces of influences of Lindgren’s travels to St. Petersburg can also be observed. Around the same time the architects designed a building in Tartu with similarities to the Friedrich Akel House but unfortunately it was destroyed during the war.
The floor plan is L-shaped, allowing the alley side another elegant but more modest façade. There is a secondary commercial premise entrance on this side. A smaller, more villa-like house is located behind the main building mass. On the left side of the main façade there is a gateway with an iron gate to a small courtyard in the back of the house.
The windows remain in the style of Art Nouveau, and in the middle of the building there is a beautiful spiral staircase. The house had ended up in a very bad shape but in the beginning of the new millennium it has been nicely restored, although probably not exactly according to its original appearance.
Text: Tarja Nurmi