The planning of Viitaniemi residential area in Jyväskylä started in 1956 and the construction was completed in 1964. The separate suburb for 2000–2500 inhabitants, flanked by a green zone, became Jyväskylä’s first garden city neighbourhood. Alvar Aalto was asked to plan a high-rise-block opposite the commercial centre, accentuating the importance of the central area and introducing a vertical contrast to Viitaniemi’s low expression.
Viitatorni’s asymmetrically stepped, 6-element façade gives the building a vertical accent. Light floods into the apartment through rectangular, wall-to-wall windows. The vertical gap formed by airing balconies in the rear façade imparts rhythm to the regularly spaced windows. The horizontally-lined side walls are windowless and façades are plastered in white throughout. Aalto introduced an apparent illusion typical of his architecture by making the building’s weight seem to float on broad, glazed surfaces. The ground floor contains commercial space and a caretaker’s apartment. The sauna suite is in the basement. There are two lifts. The loadbearing structure is of reinforced concrete and the wall insulation of lightweight expanded concrete block.
Viitatorni contains 72 units in two categories, each floor having four 1-room + kitchenette units, with one 3-room + kitchen units at each gable end. No two units on any floor are identical. In the 3-room units, the living room and bedrooms extend to the outer walls on each side. These spaces are separated by a sliding partition-door which, when opened, turns the unit into unimpeded space extending in both directions to the outer walls.