Helsinki City Theatre
- 200 m
The House of Municipalities is based on the winning entry of Castrén–Jauhiainen–Nuuttila Architects in the architecture competition 1977. The design of the building began straight after the competition in 1978 and construction started in 1979. The building was completed and opened in 1982.
The red brick was chosen for the elevation material to be suited to the neighbouring 19th century hospital buildings. In searching for the most effective and visually striking design the Castrén–Jauhiainen–Nuuttila Architects arrived at a variation of the H-form plan that has almost become a trademark of its office administration buildings since the days of Viljo Revell (the founder of the office and the principal architect of the Toronto City Hall) in the sixties.
The central, public part connecting the office wings was designed to give a prestigious impression in its façade architecture and the functioning of the spaces. It contains a skylighted main hall, hanging plants on balconies, a library, a restaurant, a conference rooms for the council and board members of the cities. At the client’s request, the building was to be both a functioning office complex for the central organisation Kuntaliitto – Association of Finnish Municipalities, and a symbol of cooperation and the long tradition of local self-government typical of Finnish towns.
This double function is emphasised through the materials, the moderate and rational use of red brick and element structures in the standard office wings, and the reflecting glass and steel walls in the central part. The southwest façade is terraced, meeting the relative space need of the restaurant and the conference and meeting rooms. The main entrance wall is straight and made of Stopsol glass installed on a steel framework. The rest of the central part structures are in cast-in-situ concrete. The partial transparency of the central part affords views over the upper yard and through the terraced lower yard onto Helsinki Central Park and the bay.
The main hall grows narrower towards the top, with meandering balconies following the outside terracing. The character of the central inner traffic and reception space stems from the colour and touch of the materials. The bent, profiled concrete balconies are painted white, and the main hall floor and part of the inner wall are of red polished Nauvo granite. The glass and steel walls and silvery aluminium ceilings – all reflecting materials – give special liveliness to space.
The House of Municipalities was designed by architects Heikki Castrén, Mirja Castrén, Juhani Jauhainen, Marja Nuuttila-Helenius and Jorma Toivonen.
Text: Finnish Architectural Review 6/1984