The Säynätsalo Town Hall

The Säynätsalo Town Hall is a multifunction building complex, consisting of two main buildings organised around a centralised courtyard designed by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto for the municipality of Säynätsalo. Aalto received the commission after a design contest in 1949, and the building was completed in 1951. It’s now considered one of Aalto’s most important buildings.

The design of the Town Hall was influenced by both Finnish vernacular architecture and the humanist Italian renaissance. It was the Italian Renaissance from which Aalto drew inspiration for the courtyard arrangement which informed the name of his original competition entry entitled “Curia.” While the main program of the building is housed within a heavy brick envelope, the courtyard is bordered by a glass-enclosed circulation space which can be linked to the model of an arcade-bordered Piazza.

The town hall is crowned by the council chamber, a double-height space which is capped by the Aalto-designed “Butterfly” trusses. The massive brick structure is punctuated by periods of vertical striation in the form of timber columns which evoke Säynätsalo’s setting in a heavily forested area. Aalto insisted that the bricks should not be laid precisely to the plane and that 20% should be off a second rate quality.

I recommend a visit and a sleepover in one of the flats available. Our guide Harri is a great host!

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