Construction of the SOK (Finnish Co-operative Society) grain mill and bakery was begun during the period between the Winter War of 1939 and the Continuation War 1941-44. The intention was for the mill to replace Viipuri mill, which had been badly damaged by bombing and ceded to the Soviet Union. Although design work was not begun until the 1940s and the building was completed only at the end of the decade, it represents, stylistically, the functionalism of the 1930s. The design merges seamlessly with Erkki Huttunen’s earlier work. The clean, white, smoothly rendered façades with their ribbon windows and the sculptural, cast-concrete pillared canopies are characteristic of his architecture for the co-operative movement. There are four buildings in the Nokia mill group: a silo, an L-shaped mill and bakery building, an office and a heating centre. The mill building and the 43-metre-high silo were cast in concrete. The Nokia mill complex is surrounded by wooden workers’ housing erected at the beginning of the 1940s. These low-rise buildings, produced by Puutalo (Wooden building) Ltd, represent the ridge-roofed type that became widespread during the period of reconstruction. The difference of scale between the housing and the mill is considerable. The architect Nils Erik Wickberg has indeed compared Nokia mill with a cathedral. It proudly dominates its surroundings in the same way as a cathedral presides over the dense, low building stock of the mediaeval city.
Text: Juhana Lahti / 20th Century Architecture, MFA