About

Category
Assembly buildings
Architect
Yrjö Lindegren Toivo Jäntti
Selections
Helsinki Landmarks Helsinki built through competitions
Tags
canopy competition concrete Functionalism landmark renovation sports steel tower white
Gross area (m²)
19984
Competition
1933
Completion
1938
Renovation
2005

The most impressive examples of functionalism in Helsinki are associated with the construction for the Olympic Games. Helsinki had originally been selected to host the Summer Olympics in 1940, but because of World War II, it had to wait until 1952.

From the beginning, the Olympic Games were regarded as an international image campaign: Finland, which was still a young nation, wanted to show the rest of the world that it was a modern country. To achieve this goal, the Olympic venues and other buildings were designed according to modern functionalist principles and the latest construction engineering was boldly applied in the construction work.

The jewel in the crown of Finland’s ‘Olympic functionalism’ is, of course, the Olympic Stadium.

In 1933 the City of Helsinki held an open architectural competition for the stadium. The streamlined entry by the young architects Toivo Jäntti and Yrjö Lindegren was chosen as winner. It is said that the entire description of their proposal was the laconic comment: “To be built of concrete.”

The first stage of the design was completed in 1938. The white, smoothly rendered walls, ribbon windows and roof-top terraces were pure functionalism, and the 72-metre-high tower, the highest landmark in Helsinki, rose above the stadium thanks to the latest advances in concrete construction techniques.

The stadium has since been expanded and renovated several times and this has partly reduced the original purity of its functionalist appearance. The current general appearance of the building dates to 1955 when office spaces were added and the exterior walls were clad with wood panelling. The tower, however, still rises proudly in its original form.

In 2003, K2S Architects won the design competition for the canopy covering the east stands. The aim of their design was that the new roof be as invisible as possible from the outside, respecting the original architecture of the stadium. The unexposed steel construction is optimised by the section form of a double sinus curve, and the underside surface consists of thin pine wood strips. The canopy was completed for the 2005 World Championships in athletics.

Currently the Olympic Stadium is under modernisation and will be opened in the summer of 2019.

Location

Paavo Nurmen tie 1, Helsinki
60.1863582, 24.9258241

Images

1940s., Olympic Stadium
1940s., Olympic Stadium (© MFA)
1940s., Olympic Stadium
1940s., Olympic Stadium (© MFA)
1940s., Olympic Stadium
1940s., Olympic Stadium (© MFA)
1940s., Olympic Stadium
1940s., Olympic Stadium (© Väinö Kannisto / Helsinki City Museum)
1940s., Olympic Stadium
1940s., Olympic Stadium (© Bonin von Volker / Helsinki City Museum)
Scale model, 1948., Olympic Stadium
Scale model, 1948., Olympic Stadium (© Osvald Hedenström / MFA )
Olympic Stadium
Olympic Stadium (© SKY-FOTO Möller / Helsinki City Museum )
Olympic Stadium
Olympic Stadium (© Sini Pennanen / Olympic Stadium )
Olympic Stadium
Olympic Stadium (© Sini Pennanen / Olympic Stadium )
East stand canopy by K2S architects., Olympic Stadium
East stand canopy by K2S architects., Olympic Stadium (© Niko Sirola / MFA)
East stand canopy by K2S architects., Olympic Stadium
East stand canopy by K2S architects., Olympic Stadium (© Niko Sirola / MFA)
Original canopy on left and east side canopy by K2S Architects on right., Olympic Stadium
Original canopy on left and east side canopy by K2S Architects on right., Olympic Stadium (© Niko Sirola / MFA)

Additional media

Yrjö Lindegren, Toivo Jäntti, competition entry
Yrjö Lindegren, Toivo Jäntti, competition entry "-but fighting well", 3rd prize, Olympic Stadium (© MFA)
Erkki Huttunen, Harry W. Schreck, competition entry
Erkki Huttunen, Harry W. Schreck, competition entry "Matti", purchase, Olympic Stadium (© MFA)
Aarne Hytönen, Risto-Veikko Luukkonen, competition entry
Aarne Hytönen, Risto-Veikko Luukkonen, competition entry "Fata morgana", 2nd prize, Olympic Stadium (© MFA)
Olympic Stadium
Olympic Stadium (© Museum of Finnish Architecture)