The following itinerary lists a range of museums, galleries, buildings and design projects which we plan to visit. Many are accessible to the public, but some require special permission, which may only be confirmed closer to the tour’s departure. The daily activities described in this itinerary may change or be rotated and/or modified in order to accommodate alterations in museum opening hours and privately hosted visits. Participants will receive a final itinerary together with their tour documents prior to departure. The tour includes breakfast daily, lunches and evening meals as indicated in the itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch and D=evening meal.
Helsinki - 6 nights
Day 1: Tuesday 3 September, Arrive Helsinki
- Airport transfer for participants arriving on the ASA ‘designated’ flight
- Welcome Drinks at Ateljee Rooftop Bar
Participants taking the ASA ‘designated’ flight are scheduled to arrive into Helsinki in the morning and will transfer directly to the Original Sokos Hotel Vaakuna. If you are travelling independently, please make your own way to the hotel. After dropping off your luggage, we shall have a short introductory meeting in the hotel foyer, and then proceed with a short orientation walk followed by welcome drinks at Ateljee Rooftop Bar. (Overnight Helsinki)
Day 2: Wednesday 4 September, Helsinki
- Architecture walking tour of Helsinki
- Finlandia Hall
- Design Museum
- Ateljé Sotamaa studio visit
- Welcome Dinner at Savoy Restaurant
Led by a local architect, we begin our day with a walking tour of cutting edge Helsinki architecture. It includes visits to Kamppi (the Chapel of Silence) whose uniquely curved shape inspires calm and tranquility, the Temppeliaukion Church, the famous ‘Rock Church’ designed by Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen in 1968 and 1969, the state-of-the-art music venue Musiikkitalo, and Oodi – the new Helsinki Central Public Library.
We are introduced to the grandfather of Finnish architecture and design, Alvar Aalto. This iconic Finn served in the Finnish Civil war in 1918 whilst in the midst of his architecture studies. He began his architecture career in the early 1920s, following the styles of classicism and functionalism. He then went through an experimental period and began designing building interiors. He became increasingly successful, inventing the widely used three-legged stool, and introducing the patented bent wood manufacturing process. Aalto’s designs include libraries in Russia, theatres in Germany and churches in Italy. Later in his career, he was commissioned for key projects in Helsinki such as Finlandia Hall, a key landmark that we visit this morning. Constructed in 1971, the congress and events centre is a modernist building featuring a tower with a high empty space for better acoustics (hidden from guests by a latticed ceiling). The interior of the building is a tribute to Aalto’s attention to detail.
We travel by public transport to reach the Design Museum, which presents the development of Finnish design from the late 19th century to today. It showcases the biggest names of Finnish design, from Akseli Gallen-Gallela and Alvar Aalto to Tapio Wirkkala and Timo Sarpaneva. The permanent exhibition dates back to the 1870s and looks at craft, fashion, furniture design and industrial design. The museum was founded in 1873 as a study collection for the Helsinki Arts and Crafts School and has operated in its current premises since 1978.
We then visit the Ateljé Sotamaa Studio and meet with award-winning architect Tuuli Sotamaa. The studio was formed by brother and sister team Kivi and Tuuli Sotamaa, and focuses on creating emotionally-appealing objects and holistic architectural environments.
Tonight, we enjoy a welcome meal at the Savoy Restaurant, the 80-year-old museum-like restaurant which bears the hallmark of Alvar Aalto and his then newly founded design brand Artek, looking over the rooftops of Helsinki. The restaurant’s best-known interior design detail is the Savoy Vase – the famous undulating vase whose first models were created in 1936 – designed by Alvar and his wife Aino Aalto. (Overnight Helsinki) BD
Day 3: Thursday 5 September, Helsinki
- Harri Koskinen Studio – Friends of Industry Ltd.
- Marimekko Outlet: see some examples of world class print-designs
- Lunch at newly refurbished Maritori Restaurant
- Ivana Helsinki House: guided tour with house host
- Iittala & Arabia Design Centre and Design Lab: meet artists
- Amos Rex Art Museum with head architect Asmo Jaaksi, JKMM Architects
Today we meet Harri Koskinen, who established his design studio, Friends of Industry Ltd. in Helsinki in 1998. In his work, Koskinen focuses mainly on product design, though his studio also offers concept design and exhibition architecture. Koskinen’s impressive list of clients includes companies such as Artek, Design House Stockholm, Iittala, Magis, Issey Miyake, Montina, Muji, Panasonic, Seiko Instruments, Swarovski and Venini. In 2004, he received the Italian Compasso d’Oro Award for the Muu chair designed for Montina. Koskinen’s works have been presented in numerous exhibitions all over the world. His Block lamp for Design House Stockholm (1996) is included in the collection of MoMA. He also has works in the permanent collections of the Design Museum in Helsinki and in the Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design. Koskinen’s recent productions include an incense holder for Lisn, OMA tableware for Arabia and men’s underwear for Black Horse.
We continue our exploration of Finnish design with a visit to the Marimekko Outlet, to see the world class Marimekko print-designed clothes, textiles and interior design pieces. Following our visit to the Marimekko Outlet, we have lunch at the newly refurbished Maritori Restaurant.
Next, we visit Ivana Helsinki Studio. Paola Ivana Suhonen is the Helsinki born designer, artist and film-maker behind the independent fashion and cinema brand Ivana Helsinki. Her brand is the only Scandinavian womenswear collection to be accepted into the official Paris Fashion Week “IN” Show calendar and has been featured in several alternative projects where fashion, design and modern art have been combined. We are introduced to the brand and the Ivana Helsinki House by the house host.
In the surrounding area, we observe the participatory architectural planning in residential suburb of Arabianranta. Literally ‘the coast or shoreline of Arabia’, this extraordinary old mixed industrial and residential precinct gained its name long before the Arabia ceramics factory, the largest ceramics centre in Europe, was built there. The name Arabia, or rather, ‘Arabian ja Kaanaan maa’ (the land of Arabia and Canaan) has been found in 18th-century documents even though the Arabia factory was not founded until 1871.
Nowadays, Arabianranta is undergoing a fascinating revival in which ultra-modern development contrasts to older industrial plant style. It is fundamentally a place of contrasts: ‘old and new’, ‘nature and urbanity’, ‘industry and residence’, ‘work and peace’, ‘art and technology’. Arabianranta is home to 10,000 people, a workplace for 5000 and a campus for 6000 students and professionals. The highlight of our exploration is a visit to Iittala & Arabia Design Centre, Finland’s most celebrated design and lifestyle brands, Iittala and Arabia. In their Design Lab Centre, we meet new artists in residence.
For our last visit of the day, we return the centre of Helsinki to visit Amos Rex, a multi-award winning art museum by architecture firm JKMM. We are accompanied for the visit by architect Asmo Jaaksi, the mastermind of the project. Amos Rex, formerly known as Amos Anderson Art Museum, brings contemporary architecture to the modernist Lasipalatsi (Glass Palace), a functionalistic building designed in 1938 by then architecture students Viljo Revell, Niilo Kokko and Heimo Riihimäki. Originally it was only built to be a temporary building, but later became an icon of functionalist architecture. It was recently renovated to revive its original lustre. Opened in autumn 2018, Amos Rex is now a meeting place for art and urban culture, consisting of an art museum within its underground exhibition spaces, the meticulously renovated Lasipalatsi and its cinema Bio Rex, as well as a vibrant event forum on Lasipalatsi Square, which serves as the roof of the exhibition hall. (Overnight Helsinki) BL
Day 4: Friday 6 September, Helsinki
- Architecture walking tour of Helsinki
- Marita Huurinainen Showroom
- Lunch at Dylan Marmoripiha Restaurant in the Rautalo building
- Artek Flagship Store
- Museum of Finnish Architecture: guided tour
We begin the day with another walking tour of Helsinki, with an emphasis on Art Nouveau and Neo-classical architecture. We stop first to visit Helsinki Main Railway Station built by Eliel Saarinen, between 1903 and 1919. Then we walk to Pohjola Insurance Building; this Art Nouveau building was designed by Eliel Saarinen and built in 1901 by Gesellius, Lindgren and Saarine.
The Neo-classical Senate Square in Helsinki is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful urban squares in the world. In the heart of Helsinki, one can still feel the presence of both Russia and Sweden – and that of Europe, along the lush, lively Esplanade Park with its neo-renaissance palaces and cafés. Then we visit Akateminen Bookstore, the Academic Bookstore, a masterpiece designed by the renowned Alvar Aalto in 1969.
At the end of our tour, we meet with designer Marita Huurinainen at her showroom, which features modern wooden clogs, evening wear and other creations. Of particular fame is her award-winning ‘wave shoe’, innovatively designed to be flexible to walk in, even though it is made from wood.
We enjoy lunch at Dylan Marmoripiha, located in the historic Rautatalo building designed by Alvar Aalto.
Then we visit the Artek Flagship Store. When Artek first opened in 1935, it mainly sold furniture designed by two of its cofounders, the architect and designer couple Alvar Aalto and his wife, Aino. It still sells classic Aalto, but also stocks the works of other famous Finnish and international designers.
For our last visit of the day, we take a short walk from Artek Flagship Store to the Museum of Finnish Architecture, whose huge collection consists of 85,000 black-and-white photographs, 30,000 slides, 500,000 original drawings, copies of drawings, documents and models. Our visit here provides an excellent overview of Finnish 20th-century architecture. (Overnight Helsinki) BL
Day 5: Saturday 7 September, Helsinki
- The Aalto House and Studio: guided tour
- Artek 2nd Cycle
- Galleria Bronda
- Design Market
We commence with a visit of the Family Home and Office designed by Aino and Alvar Aalto in 1934-36. The building presents a severe façade to the street, hiding an interior that experiments with the ‘Romantic Functionalist Style’ that Aalto fully developed in the later Villa Mairea. Nearby we visit Aalto’s studio of 1955, which is often considered one of his finest buildings from the ’50s.
We then visit Artek 2nd Cycle, a shop featuring a vintage collection of Alvar Aalto furniture as well as other Finnish and international brands.
We follow this visit with a viewing of Galleria Bronda, an exhibition space for contemporary art since 1978. At the time of our visit, there will be an exhibition of the controversial works of Kaj Stenvall. Some of his work features what he calls “a very familiar looking duck”, which many have likened to the Donald Duck of Disney Comics.
We end our day with a visit to the Design Market. Held at the beginning of Helsinki Design Week, the Design Market is the biggest design stock sale event in the Nordic countries. Located in the Cable Factory, it provides visitors with an opportunity to find items made from Finnish raw materials. We transfer back to the hotel, and spend the rest of the evening at leisure. (Overnight Helsinki) B
Day 6: Sunday 8 September, Helsinki
- Villa Ainola: guided tour
- Villa Kokkonen, Järvenpää: guided tour, music performance & buffet lunch
- Löyly Sauna: architectural visit with Ville Hara and Anu Puustinen, Avanto Architects, optional sauna visit and view from the terraces
Today we begin with a guided tour of Villa Ainola. Jean Sibelius and his family moved into this villa in 1904 after it was designed by Lars Sonck according to just two simple requests from the composer: a view of Lake Tuusula and a green fireplace in the dining room. The current appearance of the house is an authentic representation of the house as it was in 1969, when Aino Sibelius passed away there, 12 years after the death of her composer husband. We visit Aino’s garden, sauna and Sibelius’ tomb.
We next transfer to one of Aalto’s last works, Villa Kokkonen, in Järvenpää, designed for the composer Joonas Kokkonen. Completed in 1969, it has been seen as a precursor to Finlandia Hall in Helsinki. The heart of the home is the large study, which was designed around a grand piano, a unique orchestration of architecture, design and music. At Villa Kokkonen we enjoy a buffet lunch and a music performance.
To conclude the day’s program, we return to the city centre to visit the recently opened Löyly Sauna which we tour with the architects Ville Hara and Anu Puustinen, Avanto Architects. Löyly is the Finnish word for the steam that envelopes you when water is thrown on the hot sauna rocks. This steam is essential to the sauna experience, which tour participants can either partake in at leisure or, alternatively, you may wish to climb atop the building to admire sea views. We enjoy a drink on the terrace. (Overnight Helsinki) BL
Jyväskylä - 2 nights
Day 7: Monday 9 September, Helsinki — Lahti — Jyväskylä
- Sibelius Hall, Lahti: guided tour
- Piano Pavilion, Lahti: guided tour & lunch
- Alvar Aalto’s Church of the Cross, Lahti: guided tour
Today we depart Helsinki and drive north towards Lahti. We begin our exploration of this town with a visit of Sibelius Hall, a congress and concert centre completed in 2000 and situated by the Lake Vesijärvi, in the birthplace of Lahti’s industrial district. The very spacious Forest Hall and the stunning lake scenery create an incredible atmosphere, and as architects Hannu Tikka and Kimmo Lintula explain, the main source of inspiration in the design was Finnish forests. This is the biggest public wooden building to be constructed in Finland in the last 100 years.
Continuing with our wooden theme, we visit the Piano Pavilion, built in 2008 from eco-friendly materials and part of the wooden architecture park being built in the area. According to Swedish-born Gert Wingårdh, the building resembles a ship that is about to launch.
We finish our time in Lahti with a visit to Aalto’s Church of the Cross (1970-1978), described as Gethsemane, a garden of peace in Lahti’s city centre. The church’s brilliant light-filled interior and excellent acoustics make a stunning concert space.
The end of the day sees us continuing the drive through Finnish woodlands before we check-in to Hotel Yöpuu, a stylish boutique hotel. (Overnight Jyväskylä) BLD
Day 8: Tuesday 10 September, Jyväskylä
- Muurame Church
- Muuratsalo Experimental House
- Saynatsalo Town Hall
- University of Jyväskylä incl. main building with library, Lozzi Restaurant & Training School
- Alvar Aalto Museum
- Workers’ Club
Today is filled with visits to Alvar Aalto buildings. With an expert local guide, we venture onto the island of Muuratsalo, which features a typical Finnish mixed forest, with birch and pine predominating. Here, we view Aalto’s Experimental House which along with Villa Mairea (visited on day 10) is one of the best examples of Alvar Aalto’s residential architecture.
Other Aalto buildings visited today are Muurame Church (1926-29), Saynatsalo Town Hall and Jyväskylä Workers’ Club (1949-1952). James Maude Richards, British architectural writer, said of the Town Hall in 1978, “It is intimate and idiosyncratic, with an unusual layout directly responsive to the genus loci.” The dark red brick, wood and copper of the buildings, and their abruptly varied roof shapes, seen through closely planted trees, visually link the whole group to the rugged landscape.
We conclude our day with visits to the Aalto Museum and a tour of Aalto’s University of Jyväskylä, including the main building with the library, the Lozzi Restaurant and the training school. In the museum, we see displays of his architecture, furniture, textiles and glassware, documenting the rapid economic growth and industrialisation that Finland experienced during the first half of the 20th century. (Overnight Jyväskylä) BL
Seinäjoki - 1 night
Day 9: Wednesday 11 September, Jyväskylä — Petäjävesi — Seinäjoki
- Petäjävesi Old Church, Petäjävesi
- Lunch at Hotel Alma
- The Aalto Centre: guided tour
This morning we drive west towards Seinäjoki, with a stop on the way in Petäjävesi, where the UNESCO World Heritage Old Church is located. Built in the 1760s for a small Lutheran parish, it was the town’s main church until 1879, when the new church was built. From the time when the new church started to be used, the old church was completely abandoned and consequently its preservation was ensured due to minimal interference from heating systems and other modifications. Features of the Petäjävesi Old Church include the steep pitched roof recalling the Gothic tradition, the interior’s hand-carved log surfaces with their silky patina and the silvery sheen on the seasoned walls, the elaborately carved pulpit, pews, chandeliers, and galleries with balustrades, which are entirely the work of local craftsmen and artists.
Upon arrival in Seinäjoki, we enjoy lunch at Hotel Alma. This refurbished building, just over a century old, was formerly a meeting point for railroad workers. Standing on the Hotel’s terrace, you can view the famous silhouette of Lakeuden Risti, a modern church designed by Alvar Aalto.
This afternoon, we visit the Aalto Centre in Seinäjoki, an internationally unique architectural complex, comprised of six buildings and Kansalaistori, the ‘Citizens’ Square’, built in 1988. Our walking tour takes us to four of the buildings designed by Alvar Aalto: Lakeuksien Risti Church, City Hall, the Theatre and the Library. The church was designed by Aalto in response to a competition to find a church for a ‘small but rapidly evolving market town’. Then, there is the city hall, whose unique facade of dark blue ceramic tiles, designed by Aalto to be ‘that of the Seinäjoki Hall and of nowhere else’, is characteristic of a more diverse modernistic expression that Aalto developed later in his career. Next, we view the Seinäjoki theatre that Aalto designed in 1968, but was only completed almost 20 years later in 1987 under the supervision of Elissa Aalto. The façade is constructed of ceramic blocks. The airy foyer is furnished with Artek pieces and houses Aalto’s unique collection of bent wood reliefs. We finish the tour of the centre with the library, whose fan-shaped main room is the most striking feature. Light falls through the window slats casting beautiful shapes on the ceiling, walls and shelves. The restored Aalto-designed library was opened in May 2015. (Overnight Seinäjoki) BL
Turku - 2 nights
Day 10: Thursday 12 September, Seinäjoki — Noormarkku — Rauma — Turku
- Villa Mairea: guided tour
- Old Rauma: walking tour
- Saint Henry’s Ecumenical Art Chapel, Turku
A scenic drive through the sparsely populated Noormarkku region brings us to Villa Mairea, an Alvar Aalto masterpiece of 20th-century architectural design. This villa is representative of the stage in Aalto’s career when he was moving from reduced functionalism to more organic but modern architectural expression in the late 1930s. It was built for Maire and Harry Gullichsen, a wealthy and open-minded couple, and friends of Aalto. The couple was so supportive of Aalto’s modern design, that whilst the early stages of the building were being completed, they were convinced by Aalto to accept a hurried new project that was based on the concept of a continuous 250-square-metre living space, intended to resemble the limitless space of nature. This would accommodate all the collective functions of the house as well as the owner’s art collections.
We stop for lunch in Rauma, one of the oldest harbours in Finland, and take a walking tour through Old Rauma. This UNESCO World Heritage medieval town is one of the finest examples of a Nordic city constructed in wood.
In the archipelago of Turku stands Saint Henry’s Ecumenical Art Chapel, a steeply arching structure with a shiny copper exterior and a warm wooden interior designed by Matti Sanaksenaho, in 2005. Sanaksenaho writes, “The chapel grows from its site, which is a hillock surrounded by pines. It rises from the landscape as a traditional sacral building”. (Overnight Turku) BL
Day 11: Friday 13 September, Turku – Kustavi – Turku
- Haroma & Partners’ Summer Villa, Kustavi
- Lunch at Heikinkarin Ranthuone, Kustavi
- Guided tour of Paimio Sanatoriuum
This morning we meet with Haroma & Partners, a small architecture firm established in 2004 and winners of ‘house of the day’ in Modern House in 2015. We drive a short distance west of Turku to view their prize-winning Summer Villa, a minimalist single-storey house comprised of timber and glass. The house is located in the beautiful province of Kustavi.
After our visit to the Summer Villa, we stop for lunch in the beautiful lake district of Kustavi.
On the opposite side of Turku lies Paimio, where Alvar Aalto’s Paimio Sanatorium was built as an isolation hospital for tuberculosis patients in the 1920s. Winning an award for the design of this hospital at the age of 30, the Sanatorium helped Aalto prove himself as an innovative and radical man with a social conscience. The design shows that Aalto had a profound concern for the diverse physical and psychological needs of patients with tuberculosis. Considerable emphasis was laid upon the peacefulness of the environment, hygiene and user comfort as well as humane, sustainable solutions. (Overnight Turku) BL
Helsinki - 2 nights
Day 12: Saturday 14 September, Turku — Haltia — Hvitträsk — Helsinki
- Architecture tour of The Finnish Nature Centre, Haltia
- Villa Hvitträsk, Kirkkonummi
- Visit and Farewell Dinner at Ultima restaurant, designed by Ateljé Sotamaa
We depart Turku today and drive back towards Helsinki. Situated on the edge of Nuuksio National Park, Haltia is a striking model of sustainable architecture. Designed by Lahdelma and Mahlamäki Architects, and inspired by a mythical goldeneye bird from the Finnish epic poem Kalevala, the graceful building won the Finnish Wood Prize in 2013. It is the first public building in Finland built entirely of wood.
We next visit Villa Hvitträsk, built at the beginning of the 20th century, and designed in the National Romantic style. This villa was home to architects Eliel Saarinen and Armas Lindgren, and was visited by esteemed figures such as Jean Sibelius, Axel Gallen-Kallela and Maksim Gorki.
Tonight, we visit and dine at Ultima, a new restaurant in South Harbour, in the centre of Helsinki. Ultima’s award-winning architects, Kivi Sotamaa and Tuuli Sotamaa, explore how architecture, design and art can be used to help people reimagine their relationship to food. As a finale to our tour, Kivi Sotamaa and Tuuli Sotamaa show us around the restaurant and join us for our farewell meal. The restaurant is described as “an experiment in changing peoples’ relationship to food through innovative cuisine, design and hyperlocal production of food”. Here, Finland’s top chefs and owners Henri Alén and Tommi Tuominen explore the culinary applications of circular economy as well as the most innovative food and farming technologies today. (Overnight Helsinki) BLD
Day 13: Sunday 15 September, Helsinki
- Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma
- Guided tour of Didrichsen Art Museum
- Iittala Flagship Store
This morning we visit the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, designed by the American architect Steven Holl. The museum, highly controversial at the time of its design in 1998, exhibits the contemporary art collection of the Finnish National Gallery.
We then take a guided tour of the Didrichsen Art Museum. Located on Kuusisaari island in Helsinki, the Didrichsen Art Museum is a unique combination of an art museum and a private villa by the seaside. Villa Didrichsen was designed by Viljo Revell, who worked as Alvar Aalto’s assistant in the world exhibition in Paris and whose influences included the well-known modernist architect, Swiss-French Le Corbusier.
We finish our day with a visit the Iittala Flagship Store, designed by Kaj Franck, which has served generations of Iittala customers since it first opened in the 1950s. The historic space presents the Iittala collection, along with a wide selection of Arabia products. (Overnight Helsinki) B
Day 14: Monday 16 September, Depart Helsinki
- Airport transfer for those taking the ASA ‘designated’ flight
The tour ends in Helsinki. Participants travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flight will transfer to the airport to take their flight home. Alternatively, you may wish to extend your stay in Europe. Please contact ASA if you require further assistance. B