About

Finlandia Prize for Architecture 2017 finalist

Prior to 1965, the Helsinki City Theatre operated on third-party stages, after which the organisation chose to construct a theatre building of its own. The architectural competition for the new building in the shoreline park along the Eläintarhanlahti Bay was won by Timo Penttilä and Kari Virta with their joined entry. The building including a large auditorium seating 920 people and a small auditorium seating 300 people opened in 1967.

Timo Penttilä was in charge of the implementation. His main idea was to break with conventional stage planning and discreetly accommodate a volume of 100,000 m3 into the green park surroundings. The building penetrates into the slope to such extent that its stages, storage areas and workshops are mainly below ground. However, the public spaces such as the grand foyer open widely to the park and the traffic flows of the public follow the natural contours of the ground. The facades are of glazed ceramic tile.

A major renovation and upgrade project of the theatre building begun in June 2015. The work by LPR Architects and Helsinki City Museum was completed in summer 2017, for the 50 years’ jubilee of the modern masterpiece. The renovation was shortlisted for the Finlandia Prize for Architecture in 2017.

Extract from the Finlandia Prize pre-selection jury statement:

The work of LPR architects is characterised by technical skill and a discreet approach to renewal that is respectful of the original edifice and makes use of contemporary techniques. All these aspects are beautifully rendered in the renovated Helsinki City Theatre in which the essence of Timo Penttilä’s architecture has been successfully preserved and partly restored to its original form.

Location

Ensi linja 2, Helsinki
60.1823421, 24.9428416

Images

Theatre after its completion in 1967.
, Helsinki City Theatre
Theatre after its completion in 1967. , Helsinki City Theatre (© Martti I. Jaatinen / MFA )
Theatre after its completion in 1967.
, Helsinki City Theatre
Theatre after its completion in 1967. , Helsinki City Theatre (© Martti I. Jaatinen / MFA )
Helsinki City Theatre
Helsinki City Theatre (© Arno de la Chapelle / Helsinki City Theatre)
Helsinki City Theatre
Helsinki City Theatre (© Pauno Narjus / Helsinki City Theatre)
Helsinki City Theatre
Helsinki City Theatre (© Arno de la Chapelle / Helsinki City Theatre)
Entrance canopy.
, Helsinki City Theatre
Entrance canopy. , Helsinki City Theatre (© Arno de la Chapelle / Helsinki City Theatre)
Main auditorium foyer in the ground floor.
, Helsinki City Theatre
Main auditorium foyer in the ground floor. , Helsinki City Theatre (© Arno de la Chapelle / Helsinki City Theatre)
Main auditorium foyer in the 1st floor.
, Helsinki City Theatre
Main auditorium foyer in the 1st floor. , Helsinki City Theatre (© Arno de la Chapelle / Helsinki City Theatre)
Timo Penttilä, Kari Virta, competition entry
Timo Penttilä, Kari Virta, competition entry "Arlecchino", 1st prize., Helsinki City Theatre (© MFA)
Timo Penttilä, Kari Virta, competition entry
Timo Penttilä, Kari Virta, competition entry "Arlecchino", 1st prize. , Helsinki City Theatre (© MFA)

Additional media

Aarne Ervi, competition entry
Aarne Ervi, competition entry "Valkoinen hevonen" scale model, shared 3rd prize., Helsinki City Theatre (© Pietinen / MFA)
Ilmo Valjakka, Leo Tenhunen, competition entry
Ilmo Valjakka, Leo Tenhunen, competition entry "Festivo", shared 3rd prize. , Helsinki City Theatre (© MFA)
Heikki Siren, competition entry
Heikki Siren, competition entry "Tuolit", purchase. , Helsinki City Theatre (© MFA)