A Tour of the Alvar Aalto Centre in Seinäjoki [part 1]

Episode 7

Part 1 of 2 – Marianne takes me on a guided tour of the Alvar Aalto centre, in Seinäjoki, a cluster of six, civic buildings that form its iconic centrepiece. Alvar and Aino Aalto are arguably Finland’s greatest designers and, in part 1, you can hear Marianne describe the Town Hall and Lakeuden Risti Church.

Guest: Marianne Holma, Seinäjoki City Guide

Download an MP3 file of A Tour of the Alvar Aalto Centre in Seinäjoki [part 1]

Show Notes

On a slushy, wintery Saturday I arranged to meet Marianne Holma, a former English teacher and now a Guide for the town of Seinäjoki, who agreed to take me on a guided tour of the Alvar Aalto Centre in Seinäjoki. It turned out to be a long recording, so I divided it into two episodes.

In episode 1, you can hear Marianne explaining about the origins of the “Alvar Aalto Ecclesiastical, Administrative & Cultural Centre”, why a new civic centre was needed in Seinäjoki and how it was that Alvar Aalto was chosen to be the architect for this project. In the Town Hall, Marianne first introduced us to the entire area covered by Aalto’s buildings; the Church, the Parish buildings, the Town Hall, the Theatre, the Library, and the Police & Court building. She also talked about the unusual, asymmetrical design of the Council meeting room, before we headed off to visit a few of them more closely.

First was Lakeuden Risti church. This was the first of the buildings that Aalto designed, along with the adjacent parish administrative buildings. We went inside and Marianne talked me through various aspects of the design and construction of the church, including the level of detail that Alvar Aalto put into his designs; light fittings and switches, pews, church organ, he insisted on designing them all, and as you walk around the various buildings, you find yourself looking for the smallest treasures in unusual places e.g. the cylindrical, ceramic tiles in the Town Hall, or the table and chairs in the Church Hall.

Marianne also explained about Aalto’s distinctive Altar-cross. It is a plain/empty cross rather than a crucifix, and the top part of the cross is a little shorter than a standard Christian cross. Episode 1 ends as we left the Church and headed across to the Theatre & Library.

 Finnish words in this Episode

  • aalto – a wave
  • Alvar & Aino Aalto – Finnish Design royalty
  • Lakeuden Risti – Lit. The Cross of the Plain, the name given to Aalto’s church in Seinäjoki
  • Kuortane – the town near to Seinäjoki where Alvar Aalto was born
  • Vuori – Lit. mountain, of which there aren’t any in Finland! Vuori is often used to name a high place



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