Helsinki Worker’s Institute
As architect to the city of Helsinki, Gunnar Taucher developed social housing production from the 1920s onward. The apartment block at Mäkelänkatu street 37-43 is, along with the workers’ housing for the engineering company Kone ja Silta Ltd, an important example of the building of small apartments in the Vallila area. Taucher directed the project, but the practical aspects were in the charge of Pauli E. Blomstedt, who worked in the city’s apartment-building department. The building is a pure-bred example of the stripped-back classicism of the 1920s with its pale wall surfaces and small windows. With the exception of the impressive design of the main entrance, decoration is sparse. The recessed central part of the monumental building, which is almost 160 metres long, is four storeys high, while the two wings are each of three storeys. The narrow frame of the building made it possible for all 87 apartments to run its entire width. The floor-plan is based on German workers’ housing types of the time. At the beginning of the 1920s, the restoration of Suomenlinna, an island fortress in Helsinki harbour, was initiated. The officers’ pavilion and two barracks situated on Länsi-Mustasaari island are very similar in spirit to this design, in both their proportions and their gently sloping roofs. The apartment blocks built later on the neighbouring site at Mäkelänkatu street 45 are also designed by Taucher, and continue a design scheme aiming at a harmonious urban landscape.
Text: Juhana Lahti / 20th Century Architecture, MFA