About

Category
Assembly buildings
Architect
Raili and Reima Pietilä Architects
Tags
brick church concrete tile
Gross area (m²)
3600
Competition
1959
Completion
1966

The Kaleva Church is one of the most monumental post-war religious buildings in Finland. The sculptural volume rising above the surrounding apartment blocks can be seen as a modern interpretation of a Gothic cathedral.

Reima Pietilä won an open competition in 1959, and Raili Pietilä became later involved in realising the project. The church represents rare structural expressionism in the Pietiläs’ oeuvre. The architectural concept was based on the use of slip forming, which made it possible to cast the 35 m high walls in 12 days. At the time, slip forming was popular in building grain elevators, and thus the church was given the nicknames “Silo of the Souls” and “Viljanen’s Silo”, referring to the Vicar Paavo Viljanen. The plan can also be seen as a reference to the Christian ichthys symbol.

The Pietiläs’ aim to create a large number of variations from simple primary forms is visible in the church hall’s 18 concave concrete walls, each having a different shape and width. Similarly, the height of the T-shaped prestressed roof beams varies according to the span. Natural light floods the interior through the tall windows between the walls. To protect the concrete walls from the weather, the exterior is clad with glazed yellow bricks. The concrete surfaces in the interior are sprayed with thin white paint. In contrast to the pale concrete, the floor is brown tiles, and the window frames, the fixed furniture and the organ case are natural-coloured pine. Reima Pietilä also designed the altarpiece Broken reed. The parish facilities are located under the church hall.

Text: Kristo Vesikansa

Location

Liisanpuisto 1, Tampere
61.4991167, 23.7939786

Images

Reima Pietilä's sketch, Kaleva Curch
Reima Pietilä's sketch, Kaleva Curch (© MFA)
Model of the competition entry, Kaleva Curch
Model of the competition entry, Kaleva Curch (© MFA)
Construction site, Kaleva Curch
Construction site, Kaleva Curch (© MFA)
Western facade, Kaleva Curch
Western facade, Kaleva Curch (© Simo Rista / MFA)
Church interior, Kaleva Curch
Church interior, Kaleva Curch (© Simo Rista / MFA)
Wooden benches and organ., Kaleva Curch
Wooden benches and organ., Kaleva Curch (© MFA)
Window strips and prestressed roof beams., Kaleva Curch
Window strips and prestressed roof beams., Kaleva Curch (© MFA)