Nikolayeff Commercial Building
The Lundqvist commercial building, designed by Selim A. Lindqvist and the construction engineer Elia Heikel, is considered Helsinki’s first modern office building, for it contained no apartments at all. Both cast iron and concrete were used in its construction, thus minimising the number of internal walls and achieving flexibility. The building is comparable with the work of the Chicago School in the late 19th century. The original cast-iron pillar structure was completely destroyed in a total refurbishment of the interior carried out in 1981, when a new load-bearing frame was installed. The vertical exterior of the building makes reference to the European art nouveau of the time, and to the historicist styles of the late 19th century, particularly the neo-gothic. Lindqvist’s contacts with central Europe, particularly Germany, were perhaps even more important than his links within Finland. The Lundqvist commercial building is, by Finnish standards, an advanced and well-adapted iron construction whose basic idea could not be more highly developed. It brought Lindqvist and Heikel’s collaboration to a natural conclusion and created the foundation for Lindqvist’s prolific career as an architect for industry and business.
Text: Juhana Lahti / 20th Century Architecture, MFA