Alvar Aalto - Finland
Housing for National Pensions Institute
Riihitie 12 - 14, Helsinki
1952 - 1954

  Construction of the administrative building for the National Pensions Institute by Alvar Aalto was delayed after the competition decision of 1949. As a consequence the architect was commissioned to design a staff housing for this institute. For this project a separate site had been reserved in the west part of Helsinki, in the city district called Munkkiniemi. In the same district is located Alvar Aalto's own house, which he completed in the 1930s. According to Alvar Aalto, the existing nature of the site was a difficult starting point. The four volumes, each with a height of five storeys were placed following the street lines when ever possible. This decision was intended to result in a continuous green space as large as possible. Between the buildings is located a small square slightly elevated above the surrounding street level, resembling an Italian piazza. Originally part of the ground floor of one of the buildings had been reserved for commercial spaces. The public character of this area is emphasized by the two arcades facing each other across the square. The exterior of the building is characterized by the use of red brick and the continuous concrete parapets. The lamella blocks contain mainly small apartments of rather ordinary layouts. The balconies stretch the whole width of the apartment.