The apartment block completed in 1969 in Tapiola Garden City was in many respects an exceptional residential project. At the time, housing construction in Finland was marked by the use of standardised models and precast panels, which often resulted in monotonous environments. Raili and Reima Pietilä’s aim, in contrast, was to integrate buildings into the terrain, a large variety of apartment types and personal details. The Pietilä couple received the commission after winning an invited competition in 1962.
The 2–9-storey buildings meander on the wooded grounds, dodging the World War I trenches. The varying rhythm of volumes and openings demonstrates Reima Pietilä’s interest in the Dutch De Stilj movement. However, instead of bright colours typical for De Stilj, Suvikumpu’s colour palette refers to the surrounding birch forest: white rendering is complemented by green painted concrete and brown-treated wood. The apartments are characterised by spacious balconies, sliding doors, interior windows, and the quantity of natural light.
A small shopping centre included in the original plan was not realised, and in the early 1980s, the Pietilä couple designed an apartment block on its site. Unlike the original buildings, it was built of precast panels. At the same time, a small flower shop was built in the northwest corner of the block.
Text: Kristo Vesikansa