In Tampere Cathedral (formerly the Church of St John), Lars Sonck combined the ground-plans of the traditional central and long churches, creating an asymmetrical whole. Sonck subsequently adapted this design principle to other church projects. The facades of Tampere Cathedral are of rough-grained granite. Closely associated with the exterior architecture is a stone wall that encircles the church, complete with lodge buildings. The stone paving of the courtyard appears to continue on the walls, making reference to the idea of a Gesamtkunstwerk. The enormous ribbed vault of the church interior was, in structural terms, a new element in Finnish monumental architecture. In contrast to the grey walls, the frescos and stained glass, with their mediaeval references, glow with saturated colour. The painted decorations by the artist Hugo Simberg have a central place in the architecture of the church. The tower of Finström Church in Sonck’s home parish on the Aland Islands is considered to be the model for the iron-framed main tower. In addition to the Finnish mediaeval tradition, the building is influenced by German ecclesiastical architecture and by stone-cutting techniques from Aberdeen, Scotland. Sonck’s basic idea was to combine features of the mediaeval city with the material realism of national romanticism. The design ranges from the courtyard surrounding the church to the tiniest details of the interior.
Text: Juhana Lahti / 20th Century Architecture, MFA