As already promised earlier, today I would like to present a new Aalto site, the House of Culture also known as Kultuuritalo in Finland. I have visited this site several times before, as far as I can remember back I was there already in 2004. In 2012, after I had started writing this blog, I did my next visit. By that time the entire building was undergoing a larger renovation. Finally this summer I was able to properly visit the site, not only to be able to admire the exterior but I was also lucky enough to participate in one of the guided tours. Lucky not only in the sense that the building was just freshly renovated but also due to the fact that guided tours are only offered each year 15 times during the month of August. In case you cannot participate in one of the 15 tours the only way to see parts of the building's interior is to participate in one of the many events held in the building or by visiting the cafeteria which provides warm lunch on a daily bases. However, to really get a look behind the scenes participation in one of the guided tours is probably the only way.
|Street view of the House of Culture during renovations in March 2012|
The building itself was ordered by the Finnish Communist Party in the mid 1950s. Even tough not a member of the party Aalto did not charge the Communist Party for designing the building, in return however the party gave Alvar Aalto complete artistic freedom. Interesting is also that a large amount of work during construction was completed by volunteers of the party. The building was owned by the party until its bankruptcy in the 1990s. Then the building was sold to the Finnish State who is nowadays the owner of the property.
Besides a large concert hall the House of Culture houses also smaller halls in the basement and in the upper floor as well as a lunch restaurant and a office building that is directly connected with the halls through a corridor. The concert hall section was kept in red brick and looks due to its curved forms rather futuristic. The office track on the other side is kept in copper and its form is rather rectangular.
Next we use the corridor that connects the two building parts. Unfortunately it was not possible during the tour to visit the office section of the building. The office spaces are rented out to companies and are therefore not open to the general public. An interesting detail of the corridor is the indirect lighting through the roof windows seen in many Aalto buildings as well.