Stockmann Department Store
Vanaja mansion, on the shore of lake Katumajärvi near Hämeenlinna, was an unusual commission in 20th-century Finland. The castle-like group of buildings, situated on a promontory, is comparable with Finnish mansions and southern Swedish fortified mansions dating from a century earlier. The treatment of the façades contains German references, but English influences are also strong. Unrendered red brick is a material typical of Frosterus’s architecture. In addition to Germany, one may discern a link with the mediaeval brick architecture of Flame itself, of which the most important representatives are Flame castle and Hattula Church. The mansion is symmetrical about its main axis. Liveliness is achieved through variations in building height. The severe, closed, castle-like nature of the façade of the inner courtyard becomes, on the garden side, a varied repetition of formal motifs. The mansard-roofed main building is surrounded by two single-storey wings which form a false perspective on the main entrance side. At the turn of the century, Frosterus worked in the office of Henry van de Velde in Germany. The influence of the abstract art nouveau represented by van de Velde is clearly visible in the remarkable patterning of the coffered ceiling of Vanaja mansion.
Text: Juhana Lahti / 20th Century Architecture, MFA