‘Is this beautiful or ugly, and can it be called architecture at all?’ These words by architect Bertel Jung express perfectly the bewilderment that greeted this tenement house, commissioned by three physicians and situated on the corner of Kasarmitori square, upon its completion in 1901.

The asymmetric and smooth façades are almost completely devoid of ornament. Different window types abound. The corner is dominated by a massive rectangular window bay, with a tiny turret held aloft not by the customary Atlas but by a frog, which atypically has a navel.

The architects’ motivation for the unconventional look was not to shock, however; it is the individual design of the interiors that is reflected on the façade. Doctors’ House is one of the earliest examples of a shift in traditional ideas about the configuration of rooms: the interiors were in freer contact with each other here, and the apartments included long series of uniform spaces. The projecting corner belongs to an interior space that extends diagonally through the entire building frame.

The house is a total work of art, with even the smallest details being designed by Gesellius, Lindgren, and Saarinen, either personally or with assistants. The detailing also included a number of tiled stoves designed specifically for this house, most of which later were produced for sale. The house has been owned since 1953 by the Finnish Association of Academic Agronomists is today known in Finnish as Agronomitalo.

Source: Art Nouveau in Helsinki – Architectural guide (Helsinki City Museum)

Location

Fabianinkatu 17, Helsinki
60.1655169, 24.9498809

Images

Doctor's House photographed from the square Kasarmitori, Doctor’s House
Doctor's House photographed from the square Kasarmitori, Doctor’s House (© Matti Similä / HKM)
Doctor´s House photographed in 1936, Doctor’s House
Doctor´s House photographed in 1936, Doctor’s House (© Eric Sundström / HKM)
Doctor´s House photographed in 1906, Doctor’s House
Doctor´s House photographed in 1906, Doctor’s House (© Nils Wasastjerna / HKM)
Kasarmitori marketplace in the early 1900s, Doctor's House on the left, Doctor’s House
Kasarmitori marketplace in the early 1900s, Doctor's House on the left, Doctor’s House (© HKM)