The design of Hyvinkää church and work centre is based on the winning entry in a competition held in 1958. It was Aarno Ruusuvuori’s first major public building, and the most expressive of his sacral buildings, all of which are characterized by the use of basic geometric shapes, fair-faced concrete and the bold and expressive use of natural light.
The complex is located on a wooded hill along the main street in the centre of Hyvinkää. Ruusuvuori’s objective was to create a cohesive point in the otherwise fragmented city centre: the more than 30-metre-high monumental church indeed dominates the cityscape from all directions.
The main form of the church consists of two attached three-sided pyramidal forms, the larger of which comprises the main church space together with an organ balcony, as well as a smaller entrance, sacristy and other auxiliary spaces. The smaller pyramid has an open lower part reminiscent of a tent, thus creating an entrance canopy that opens up via large glazed areas into the interior.
The church interior has a cathedral-like grace, with seating for around 800 people. Ruusuvuori wanted to create a light-filled sacral space without noticeable windows in the walls. Thus natural light had to be let in from above, from the opposite side of the altar wall, which also contributes to the tall outline of the church. A folded concrete slab construction was developed for the high walls of the church interior, which substantially improved their bearing capacity. The sharply folded wall structure, together with the natural light falling from the upper windows, creates an imposing visual rhythm within the church space which rises towards the sky visible through the upper windows, and which at the same time forms a dramatic frame for the pure white altar wall.
The leading structural engineer of the era, Paavo Simula, was responsible for the design of the innovative wall structure. The church furniture was designed by Antti Nurmesniemi and the church silverware by Bertel Gardberg. The so-called work centre is a modest wall-like building, which flanks the church yard. The ensemble is complemented by a triangle-shaped bell tower.
The church was renovated in 1987, and the original appearance of the totality has been well preserved. The parish centre, which clearly differs from the rest, was also designed by Ruusuvuori and was completed in 1990. Hyvinkää Church and Work Centre is listed on the DOCOMOMO Finland registered selection of important architectural and environmental modernist sites.
Text: Petteri Kummala / DOCOMOMO Finland