A high stone wall on the southern flank of the Eira district used to separate a railway track running along the shore from Merikatu, with its row of houses providing an excellent overview of the area’s architecture. Merikatu 31 (von Essen–Kallio–Ikäläinen, 1912), Merikatu 35 (Leuto A. Pajunen and Frans Hj. Väänänen, 1911) and Merikatu 37–39 (Vilho Penttilä, 1911) are low-rise residential buildings. Merikatu 33 (Max Frelander, 1913) today houses a day-care centre.

On the eastern side of the park, descending towards the shore from Engelinaukio square, sits the classicistic house Engelinaukio 8 (Jarl Eklund, 1914) and below that Engelinaukio 10 – Armfeltintie 6 (Werner von Essen, 1911). The design ideals that informed the planning of the villa district are visible in the sloping park area. The houses are placed loosely on the plots and are surrounded by terraced walls or hedges that follow the contours of the land. A park next to the square is named after the writer Juhani Aho (1861–1921), who spent the last years of his life at Armfeltintie 6. A statue of Juhani Aho, by Aimo Tukiainen from 1961, is situated in the Engel Square in the middle of the district.

One landmark building on the western side of the park is the stately yellow ‘Aukio’ at Engelinaukio 15–17 (Harald Smedberg, 1915). As with many houses in the area, the robustly shaped mansard roof reaches down to the bottom edge of the top-floor windows. ‘Villa Riviera’ at Armfeltintie 1 (Selim A. Lindqvist, 1910) was originally a private villa built by bank director August Lundqvist, but the house has been used by the Finnish Federation of Child Welfare since 1946. The repetitive semi-circular forms and minimal ornamentation, the imposing hip roof with its green-patinated copper sheeting, and its plastered walls establish a simplified look and reflect the architect’s goal of a more rational and symmetrical design idiom.

Also on the edge of Eira Park is Armfeltintie 13 (Onni Tarjanne, 1911), a late art nouveau building recently renovated to its former glory. One of the few single-family villas in Eira, it embodies the original idea for the district. The modernist building of the embassy of Norway, located in the crossing of Rehbinderintie and Hornintie, differs from the art nouveau villas. The building was designed by Norwegian architects Eyvind Retzius and Svein Bjöland, and it was completed in 1964.

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

Location

Approximate location

Images

Aerial view from south in 1925, Eira Villa District
Aerial view from south in 1925, Eira Villa District (© Rauhamaa / HKM)
Merikatu villas , Eira Villa District
Merikatu villas , Eira Villa District (© Yehia Eweis / HKM)
Engel Square villas, Eira Villa District
Engel Square villas, Eira Villa District (© Yehia Eweis / HKM)
Merikatu villas, Eira Villa District
Merikatu villas, Eira Villa District (© Yehia Eweis / HKM)
Eira Villa District in 1911, Eira Villa District
Eira Villa District in 1911, Eira Villa District (© W.W. Wilkman / HKM)
The Engel Square in 1916, Eira Villa District
The Engel Square in 1916, Eira Villa District (© Hanna Tyvelä)
Eira Park in 1940, Eira Villa District
Eira Park in 1940, Eira Villa District (© A. Pietinen Oy / HKM)
Engel Squre in the early 1960s, Eira Villa District
Engel Squre in the early 1960s, Eira Villa District (© Rune Uggla / HKM)
The modernist building of the embassy of Norway in the middle of the art nouveau district, Eira Villa District
The modernist building of the embassy of Norway in the middle of the art nouveau district, Eira Villa District (© Constantin Grünberg / HKM)
Rehbinderintie villas and Eira Park in the 1960s, Eira Villa District
Rehbinderintie villas and Eira Park in the 1960s, Eira Villa District (© Constantin Grünberg / HKM)
A view from the Engel Square to west, Eira Villa District
A view from the Engel Square to west, Eira Villa District (© Simo Rista SER / HKM)
Aerial view from Agricola Church tower in 1972, Eira Villa District
Aerial view from Agricola Church tower in 1972, Eira Villa District (© Kari Hakli / HKM)