Building renovation has been on the increase and will continue to do so in the future. A successful renovation requires careful planning customised to the situation. The latest issue of the Finnish Architectural Review (Arkkitehti) discusses skilful renovations of significant buildings with very different starting points and methods, but in all cases the original architecture has been treated with respect.
For example, St. Paul’s Church (1917) in Tartu, Estonia, designed by Eliel Saarinen, is little known in Finland. The history of the church has been dramatic: during the war it was damaged by fire and during the Soviet era it was used as a museum storage. Now, however, the church has been renovated, returning it to the glory its status requires. The major restoration and extension of the building lasted a decade. Finnish architects Merja Nieminen and Kari Järvinen received the commission following an architectural competition.
The Maamerkki tower (1987) in Itäkeskus, Helsinki, is a very different renovation project. The office tower, designed by Erkki Kairamo, one of the leading architects of the time, has been skilfully converted into an apartment block. The project shows that even a major change can be achieved with respect for the original. In a renovation project one must accept the limitations imposed by the building – whether it is 30 or 100 years old – and use them to one’s advantage. This is how Anders Adlercreutz, the architect of the renovation set out his approach. Adlercreutz, who is currently a first-term Member of Parliament, writes in a guest column about a healthy building. He himself lives with his family in a boarded log house built in the 1920s. The occupants thrive in their house, yet this kind of a house would no longer be allowed to be built. The MP asks: “Is it perhaps time to wake up to consider the rationale behind excessive energy efficiency?”
Le Corbusier, “the Picasso of Modern architecture”, never visited Finland nor designed anything here. His work, however, has contributed significantly to the development of Finnish Modern architecture. Researcher traces expressions of Le Corbusier’s influences in Finland from the 1920s to the 1980s. Also the other featured articles talk about the history of Finnish Modernism. Among these, for example, is the currently topical issue of the Helsinki Ice Hall (1966). With its impressive suspended roof structure, the stadium – which has been proposed for demolition in order to make way for a new ice arena – is architecturally still the most significant ice stadium in Finland. The issue also brings to light the international seminar held on the island of Suomenlinna in 1968 which globalised Finnish design perspectives.
The featured renovations or extensions include:
- Maamerkki tower, Itäkeskus, Helsinki / A-konsultit (Erkki Kairamo 1987)
- Helsinki Culinary School Perho, Helsinki / SARC (Aarne Ervi 1957
- Aalto Library, Seinäjoki / Architects Mustonen (Alvar Aalto 1965)
- St. Paul’s Church of Tartu, Estonia / Kari Järvinen and Merja Nieminen (Eliel Saarinen 1917)