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The Jyväskylä University campus is largely made up of the buildings designed by Alvar Aalto for the Jyväskylä College of Education, later the University of  Jyväskylä, in the 1950s. The layout, based on the winning competition proposal, is derived from the American campus principle. Originally, it consisted of buildings designed to serve both the teaching and administration of the College, including the main building and library, the teaching-practice school, the refectory and hall of residence, two gymnastics buildings, an indoor swimming pool built by the student union and subsequently extended several times, plus a residential building for staff and a boiler house. Aalto’s original scheme forms a crescent or ‘horseshoe’ around the sports ground. 

Designed in



Finland, Jyväskylä

— 1

The entrance piazza leads to the main building. The library wing is along the right side. Photo: Martti Kapanen, Alvar Aalto Foundation.

— 2

Main building. Red brick is the predominant material of the buildings. Photo: Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Foundation.

— 3

Main building foyer. Photo: Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Foundation.

— 4

The marble surfaces, the hardwood details and the ceramic rod tiles all emphasise the special status of the main building. Photo: Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Foundation.

— 5

Main building, festival hall C1. Photo: Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Foundation.

— 6

Main building, lecture hall C4. Photo: Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Foundation.

— 7

Main building. The generously glazed walls make the ground floor a continuation of the forest. Photo: Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Foundation.

— 8

Ceremonial square behind the main building. Photo: Martti Kapanen, Alvar Aalto Foundation.

— 9

Competition proposal ”URBS”. Site plan. Drawing: Alvar Aalto Foundation.

— 10

Staff refectory (now conference and ceremonial space) “Lantern” and student refectory Lozzi. Photo: Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Foundation.

— 11

Aalto´s campus forms a loose U pattern, with a sports field and wooded parkland in the middle. Photo: Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Foundation.

— 12

The gymnasiums, swimming hall and the practice school. Photo: Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Foundation.

— 13

The building for the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences was completed in 1971. Photo: Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Foundation.

Practice school 1952-53

Now building X

A mainly 3-storey, modern primary school building. The classrooms were arranged in groups of three with separate entrance corridors. In the practice school, students from the teacher-training department at the College of Education watched lessons and worked as trainee teachers. Until 2002, the lower-stage Normaalikoulu school was housed in the building, after which it was renovated for university teaching and offices.

Photo: Maija Holma © Alvar Aalto Foundation.

Practice school gymnasium (1952-53)

Now U1

Photo: Maija Holma © Alvar Aalto Foundation.

Student hall of residence “Naatti” (1952-53)

Now P-building

The building comprised 40 rooms for 2 men and 40 rooms for 2 women, thus housing a total of 160 students. Besides the residential rooms, there were WCs, showers and kitchens off the corridors and saunas in the basement. By the 1970s, Naatti no longer met the requirements for student accommodation, and in 1974, Naatti was converted to teaching and office space for the language department. The building is currently empty and its future use has yet to be decided.

Photo: Maija Holma © Alvar Aalto Foundation.

Student refectory Lozzi (1952-53)

The main entrance to Lozzi is in a red-brick wall on the inner side of the horseshoe-shaped campus, but the views out to the terrace and pine-clad hillside from the second-floor refectory give the building a special character. As well as the refectory and the ground-floor kitchen, the building was planned to house offices and clubrooms for the student union. Because of increased student numbers and changes in the catering system, plus the construction of a separate student union building, the internal layout of Lozzi has changed.

Photo: Maija Holma © Alvar Aalto Foundation.

Staff refectory (1952-53)

Now Lyhty (“Lantern”)

Originally, Lyhty was a dining room for professors and teachers, but it is currently used for celebrations and conferences. Structurally, Lyhty is linked to Lozzi, but in outward appearance it differs clearly from the rest of the original red-brick buildings on campus. The small building is constructed of columns and beams clad in light-coloured granite and has large windows.

Photo: Maija Holma © Alvar Aalto Foundation.

The indoor swimming pool (1954-55)

Now AaltoAlvari aquatic centre

The indoor swimming pool was built as a student union project, and the first pool was only 25 metres long. The external walls were of red brick, like the rest of the campus, until the late 1960s when they were painted white. The first extension, comprising teaching pool and foyer spaces, was completed in 1964. The 50-metre pool was completed in 1975 and the spa section in 1991. All these extensions were designed by Alvar Aalto´s office. The current owner is City of Jyväskylä.

Photo: Martti Kapanen © Alvar Aalto Foundation.

Student gymnasium (1954-55)

Now U2

Photo: Maija Holma © Alvar Aalto Foundation.

The staff residential building (1954-55)

Now G-building

The staff residential building was intended for janitors, engineers and other supporting staff, but in the early 1970s it was converted into guest rooms for university visitors. In 2006, the building was renovated for use as the university science museum.

Photo: Maija Holma © Alvar Aalto Foundation.

Main building (1954-55)

Now Capitolium or C

The main building comprises a fan-shaped assembly hall section, a rectangular wing housing administrative and teaching spaces, and a high staircase hall in between. The marble floor of the assembly hall foyer and the large windows to the café unite interior and exterior spaces, while the stairs leading to the assembly hall emphasise its importance. The university assembly hall has also been used as a venue for many non-university events.

Photo: Maija Holma © Alvar Aalto Foundation.

Library (1954-55)

Now Aalto Library

When it was completed, the Library was already too small to be used as a library for the growing college. Even while under construction, the plan was changed to include more space for library use. The building is largely underground and unseen but it links the main building with the practice school and is tightly bordered by one of the old Seminary buildings. The roof of the reading room has a long pyramid-shaped roof window. The Library was under-used until architect Arto Sipinen’s design for a new library was completed in 1974.

Photo: Martti Kapanen © Alvar Aalto Foundation.

Student union building Ilokivi (1964-65)

Operations in the student union building began when an 8-lane bowling alley was opened in 1964. Ilokivi, which was the name of the restaurant, eventually became the nickname for the whole building. As well as the restaurant and bowling alley, the building originally housed offices and meeting rooms. Over time, the location of the restaurant changed and use of the entire building has changed since it was renovated. The original interior has not been retained.

Photo: Maija Vatanen © Alvar Aalto Foundation.


Sports Sciences Faculty building (1969-71)

Now building L

The white sports building beside Keskussairaalantie originally completed Aalto’s red-brick, horseshoe-shaped campus. The earliest designs for the building date from 1961, when training for sports teachers was started at Jyväskylä. When the building was completed, research and teaching in sports and health sciences was concentrated on Jyväskylä. The gymnastics department at the University of Helsinki was closed and the department’s previous premises are now in use as the Museum of Architecture.

Photo: Maija Holma © Alvar Aalto Foundation.