Kaleva Insurance Company
The workers’ housing for Kone ja Silta Ltd designed by Armas Lindgren and Bertel Liljequist is a unique example of early social housing production in Finland.
In 1916 Kone ja Silta Ltd expressed to the city of Helsinki its wish to build workers’ housing in the Vallila district of the city. The commission was given to Armas Lindgren and Bertel Liljequist, who had already designed industrial buildings for the same company. Their design used a large courtyard, a building type which, in the burgeoning urban planning ideology of the 1920s, was in favour in central Europe and the Nordic countries. Examples include the Hofs, or workers’ housing, of Vienna, and the governor’s housing of Gothenburg. In the original plan, the building was encircled by a three-storey building frame some 11 metres wide, with a castle-like entrance at the centre of each façade. The apartments consisted of either one or two rooms with a kitchen or a single room with a stove. The company was able to build only one quarter of the block; completing the remainder was left to the city of Helsinki. This was realised in two parts, in 1927 and 1929. In 1928 the Lindgren & Liljequist office broke up, and the project was overseen by Lindgren. In these later building phases, he developed different classical themes into varying wholes and diversified the ground-plans. In the Sammatintie road façade, Lindgren achieved a particularly handsome result. The block was finally completed only after Lindgren’s death.
Text: Juhana Lahti / 20th Century Architecture, MFA