Erottajankatu 2, nicknamed as “Erottaja Palace”, is one of the most elegant Neo-Renaissance buildings in Helsinki. The building was designed by architect Theodor Höijer who is famed for designing Ateneum Art Museum and many other notable Neo-Renaissance buildings in the city centre of Helsinki. The construction was completed in 1891.
The main façade with male caryatids and other façade ornaments define the street space of Erottaja area. Caryatids are a temple ornament from ancient Greek, where female figured sculptures serve architectural support taking the place of a column or a pillar on the façade. On the façade of Erottajankatu 2, the caryatids are, differing from the tradition, male figures. They portray the Greek god Atlantis, who according to the epic, held the world on his shoulders. Sculptor Robert Stigell realised the sculptures after Höijer’s plan. The interiors consist of many original details, such as decorated ceramic stoves from three local tile factories. A famous Neo-Renaissance decorator Salomo Wuorio painted the ceiling of the main staircase.
The insurance company Kaleva financed the construction. The first two floors were used as offices of the National Board of Education and a bank (Helsingfors Sparbank). The upper floors of the Erottajankatu 2 were initially planned to be used as residential floors. Finnish opera singer Aino Ackté was one of the first tenants of Kaleva at “Erottaja Palace” with her family. In 1913 Kaleva sold Erottajankatu 2 to the state. The apartments were one by one renovated to offices. The building was at first used by the National Board of Customs and later by the Ministry of the Interior. The building was sold to real estate investment trust in 2015.
In Autumn 2019 “Erottaja Palace”, along with the neighbouring art nouveau building Uudenmaankatu 5, is the scene of Helsinki Design Week. After HDW the building is going to be renovated up to date office spaces.