Nokia SOK Mill
Nakkila church, built with a bequest from the industrialist J. W. Suominen, is one of the earliest Functionalist church buildings in Finland and just like the churches of Kannonkoski (P. E. Blomstedt, 1938), Rajamäki (E. Huttunen, 1938) and Varkaus (M. Paalanen, 1939) differs from the traditional church architecture of the time. With its white-rendered walls, rectangular floor plan, shallow-pitched roof, and tall concrete bell tower, the church rises as a sculptural landmark from the surrounding plains.
According to the competition brief compiled by the church’s building committee, the church must not be a cross-plan church, and furthermore the building had to “look like a church”. Evidently, the local community shunned the modernist architectural form language, and therefore did not want a design that differed too much from the traditional church style. Although Huttunen’s proposal also was considered too modern, it was nevertheless seen as artistically the most successful proposal and was thus chosen as the basis for the implementation. The construction began in 1936, with Uuno Helminen from Pori as a building contractor, and it was inaugurated in June the following year. The reception at the time was ambivalent. The church’s appearance was considered alien and it was compared to a factory building. On the other hand, it was seen that the new form naturally reflected the characteristics of the time.
The church is built from brick, which is rendered both inside and outside, but with the walls punctuated on the exterior by concrete support columns, between which are tall and narrow windows that provide light to the nave. The Functionalist features of the architecture are further emphasized by the tall bell tower, a group of circular windows on the south facade, a strip window around the semi-circular choir and a stylized exterior pulpit, as well as the use of concrete in the structure. The saw-tooth ceiling in the nave has for acoustic reasons been clad in wood. Also, the interior forms are simple and distinct; instead of an altarpiece, there is a wooden crucifix rising from the altar. The modernist form language of the interior is characterised by the strong colours of the choir and the adjacent baptistery, together with green-stained pews and lamps manufactured by Taito Oy. The church has been preserved almost entirely in its original form, apart from minor changes in the interior.
Nakkila Church is listed on the DOCOMOMO Finland registered selection of important architectural and environmental modernist sites.
Text: Teppo Jokinen / DOCOMOMO Finland