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Aino and Alvar Aalto won first prize for their entry ‘Forum redivivum’. The intended site was a block marked off by Mannerheimintie, Töölönkatu and Kivelänkatu, though a neighbouring block facing Hesperiankatu was given as an alternative. The entire project was to be funded by the the Social Insurance Institution of Finland, which looked forward to obtaining a good, reliable return on its investment.

Designed in



Finland, Helsinki

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The building is situated in a triangular site in Taka-Töölö, Helsinki. Photo: Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Foundation

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Elevation towards Minna Canthin katu. Drawing: Alvar Aalto Foundation

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The façade materials are red brick, copper, and black granite. Photo: Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Foundation

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Floor plan. Drawing: Alvar Aalto Foundation

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The façade towards Minna Canthin katu. Photo: Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Foundation

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The prism-shaped lantern skylights of the customer-service hall. Drawing: Alvar Aalto Foundation

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Cubicles of the customer-service hall. Photo: Heikki Havas, Alvar Aalto Foundation

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Various models and colours of ceramic tiles have been used in the interiors. Some models of tiles were designed specifically for the National Pensions Institute. Photo: Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Foundation

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Section. Library on top left corner. Drawing: Alvar Aalto Foundation

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The library's reading area gets natural light from skylights. The ideas underpinning Aalto's library designs can be seen here. Photo: Heikki Havas, Alvar Aalto Foundation

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The library's reading area. Photo: Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Foundation

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Board meeting room in 1950s. Photo: Heikki Havas, Alvar Aalto Foundation

Guided tours

Guided tours on Mondays at 14:00. A valid ID is required for entry. Enquiries:

'Forum redivivum' 1949

In their competition entry ‘Forum redivivum’, Aino and Alvar Aalto placed the main emphasis on a visionary town planner’s idea of endowing the Finnish capital with a new, secondary centre appropriate to a modern metropolitan lifestyle. He separated heavy traffic, automobile traffic, and pedestrian traffic onto different levels, laying out a series of large and small promenade decks, planted areas and staircases between the four or five large buildings called for in the plan.

The main building, in red brick, contains an enormous central hall running through five storeys and top-lit by 12 prism-like lanterns. On one side of the square stands a rectangular fourteen-storey rental office tower with a fenestrated facade. A third building, which Aalto called the Sibelius Concert Hall, contains an auditorium with seating for 1,900 and a large restaurant.

Photo: Scale model of the competition proposal. Leonardo Mosso, Alvar Aalto Foundation.