House of Culture
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Architect Alvar Aalto
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Location Helsinki, Finland   map
Date 1955 to 1958   timeline
Building Type cultural center
 Construction System tile cladding
Climate cold
Context urban
Style Modern
Notes A lilting interpretation of the shape of music.


Photo, exterior

Photo, exterior

Photo, exterior


Plan Drawing

Section Drawing

Discussion House of Culture Commentary

"The 'house of culture' (Kulttuuritalo) serves as a centre for the cultural work of various trade-union organizations. The building comprises three distinct parts: offices, lecture and conference rooms, a concert hall. The office part has five storeys with 110 offices, meeting rooms and two flats. In the lecture and conference room section (in the middle of a U-shaped complex) are a lecture hall, study rooms, discussion rooms, a library and a records room. The concert and congress hall is the main feature of the group. The hall, with 1500 seats and a stage 200 sq m, is primarily intended for concerts, but is also used for lectures. The various parts of the building are linked together along the street by a canopy 60m long, under which are the main entrances. The free asymmetrical form of the hall entailed the development of a new facing element, a wedge-shaped brick, with which all the curves of the irregular exterior could be realized."

— Egon Tempel. New Finnish Architecture. New York, Washington: Frederick A. Praeger, 1968. p134.

"The office wing is dressed in the iconography of a modernist office block, the theatre is crowned with the copper pitch roof of the traditional civic monument, while the porch oscillates between being a private entry or a public arcade, celebrating in this way the heterotopia of a multivalent propriety."

— David Dunster, ed. Architectural Monographs 4: Alvar Aalto. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1984. p17.

Sources on House of Culture

Roger H. Clark and Michael Pause. Precedents in Architecture. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1985. binuclear diagram, p205. — Updated edition available at

Karl Fleig. Alvar Aalto. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1974. ISBN 0-275-49660-0. LC 74-5568. NA1455.F53A239. section, p33. interior photo of auditorium, p32. exterior photo of entry canopy, p31.

Peter Gossel and Gabrile Leuthauser. Architecture in the Twentieth Century. Benedikt Taschen Verlag, 1991. ISBN 3-8228-0550-5. exterior photo of wall, p243.

Malcolm Quantrill. Alvar Aalto: A Critical Study. New York: Schoken Books, 1983. ISBN 0-8052-3845-X. LC 82'-61845. NA1455.F53A237 1983. exterior color photo of roof and brick detail, fig VIII.

Kevin Matthews. The Great Buildings Collection on CD-ROM. Artifice, 2001. ISBN 0-9667098-4-5.— Available at  Find books about House of Culture


Web Resources
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