Architect
Alvar Aalto
Completion
1962
Gross area
4223 m²
Themes
Alvar Aalto’s Architecture
Category
Residential buildings
Tags
block of flats concrete garden city high-rise landmark white

The planning of Viitaniemi residential area in Jyväskylä started in 1956 and the construction was completed in 1964. The separate suburb for 2000–2500 inhabitants, flanked by a green zone, became Jyväskylä’s first garden city neighbourhood. Alvar Aalto was asked to plan a high-rise-block opposite the commercial centre, accentuating the importance of the central area and introducing a vertical contrast to Viitaniemi’s low expression.

Viitatorni’s asymmetrically stepped, 6-element façade gives the building a vertical accent. Light floods into the apartment through rectangular, wall-to-wall windows. The vertical gap formed by airing balconies in the rear façade imparts rhythm to the regularly spaced windows. The horizontally-lined side walls are windowless and façades are plastered in white throughout. Aalto introduced an apparent illusion typical of his architecture by making the building’s weight seem to float on broad, glazed surfaces. The ground floor contains commercial space and a caretaker’s apartment. The sauna suite is in the basement. There are two lifts. The loadbearing structure is of reinforced concrete and the wall insulation of lightweight expanded concrete block.

Viitatorni contains 72 units in two categories, each floor having four 1-room + kitchenette units, with one 3-room + kitchen units at each gable end. No two units on any floor are identical. In the 3-room units, the living room and bedrooms extend to the outer walls on each side. These spaces are separated by a sliding partition-door which, when opened, turns the unit into unimpeded space extending in both directions to the outer walls.

Location

Viitaniementie 16, Jyväskylä
62.2496967, 25.7331537

Images

Facade to west, Viitatorni
Facade to west, Viitatorni (© Martti Kapanen, Alvar Aalto Museum)
Viitatorni
Viitatorni (© Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Museum)
Viitatorni
Viitatorni (© Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Museum)
Viitatorni
Viitatorni (© Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Museum)
Street view from north, Viitatorni
Street view from north, Viitatorni (© Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Museum)
Facade to west (in front row houses), Viitatorni
Facade to west (in front row houses), Viitatorni (© Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Museum)
Facade to east, Viitatorni
Facade to east, Viitatorni (© Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Museum)
Facade to west, Viitatorni
Facade to west, Viitatorni (© Martti Kapanen, Alvar Aalto Museum)
An early model of Viitaniemi area, Viitatorni
An early model of Viitaniemi area, Viitatorni (© Alvar Aalto Museum)

More projects by author