The Olofsborg apartment block stands on a corner site whose shape the building follows beautifully. The shape of the site made the spatial arrangement of the interior spaces difficult. The aim of the Gesellius, Lindgren, Saarinen office in designing apartments was primarily to build homes. They wished the individuality of the different apartments to be reflected in the architecture of the exterior. Numerous corner windows added to improve the views from the apartments. This approach was well suited to the commission, to build an apartment block for a group of relatives and friends. The residents attempted to protect their light and views by actively influencing the building carried out on neighbouring sites. The materials of the exterior appeal to the senses. The foundation is of granite, the walls are rendered and part of the roof is of red tile. The condominium took its name from Olavinlinna, the medieval castle in Savonlinna in eastern Finland, which was an object of interest for architects at the turn of the century. The only reference the building makes to the castle is its softly plastic round tower. The design primarily recalls the office’s own villa designs, particularly Hvitträsk and its unconventional shaping of living spaces. Together with a building designed by the same practice at Fabianinkatu street 17 a year earlier, the Olofsborg condominium rapidly became a model for new residential buildings.

Text: Juhana Lahti / 20th Century Architecture, MFA

Location

Katajanokankatu 1, Helsinki
60.1672885, 24.9657529

Images

Street façade, Olofsborg
Street façade, Olofsborg (© Kari Hakli / MFA)
Original doors in the staircase, Olofsborg
Original doors in the staircase, Olofsborg (© Kari Hakli / MFA)
Street façade, Olofsborg
Street façade, Olofsborg (© Daniel Nyblin / MFA)
Detail of the street façade, Olofsborg
Detail of the street façade, Olofsborg (© Asko Salokorpi / MFA)
Doorway, Olofsborg
Doorway, Olofsborg (© MFA)
Staircase, Olofsborg
Staircase, Olofsborg (© MFA)
Original drawings, Olofsborg
Original drawings, Olofsborg (© MFA)
Original drawings, Olofsborg
Original drawings, Olofsborg (© MFA)
Floor plans of second, third and fourth floors, Olofsborg
Floor plans of second, third and fourth floors, Olofsborg (© MFA)