In the architectural competition to design the General Post Office that was held in 1934, Finland’s youngest architects took centre stage. Award winners included Jorma Järvi who was 26 and Erik Lindroos who was just a few years older. Eero Saarinen, who came third, was only 24. He would later gain world-fame thanks to his work in the United States.

No first place was awarded in the competition, and the streamlined and modernist design proposal by Järvi and Lindroos, which came second, was chosen as the basis for the General Post Office. The young architects’ building would have been the first modernist commercial building in Helsinki, had it not been for Kaarlo Borg, an older architect who was assigned to ‘assist’ in the design work.

A reserved monumental design influenced by classicism came to replace the bold modernism of Järvi and Lindroos’s competition entry. What is more, the final design turned into a mirror image of the competition entry: the high-rise wing that was originally aligned with Mannerheimintie is aligned with Postikatu and the main entrance faces Arkadiankatu instead of Erottaja.

At the time of its completion in 1938, the General Post Office was the tallest building in Helsinki. While it did not become a modernist monument, it forms a prominent landmark in the capital’s cityscape.

Location

Mannerheiminaukio 1, Helsinki
60.17140862, 24.93806362

Images

General Post Office
General Post Office (© Museum of Finnish Architecture)
Gereral Post Office in 1938, General Post Office
Gereral Post Office in 1938, General Post Office (© Pietinen Aarne Oy / HKM)
General Post Office
General Post Office (© Museum of Finnish Architecture)
General Post Office
General Post Office (© Museum of Finnish Architecture)
General Post Office
General Post Office (© Museum of Finnish Architecture)