In spring 1932 August Tammekann, an Estonian professor of geography, commissioned Aalto to draw up a plan for a small private house. For financial reasons the house was never completed according to Aalto’s plans. Due to Estonian building regulations and primitive insulation techniques, the walls were made thicker than planned, with the result that the rooms and corridors became smaller than intended. Aalto’s original flat-roofed design was a strictly Rationalist forerunner of his later private house designs: a mere touch of softening wood surfaces here and there contrasts with the white plaster walls and a fairly closed room disposition. The most original feature is the placing of the open fireplace inside the external wall under the strip window of the living room.
The original owner family had to leave Estonia in 1940, and the house became a multi-family house until the 1990s. Several interior walls and a pitched roof was built when the original flat roof began to leak.
Today the house is owned by The Turku University Foundation. It was completely renovated during 1999–2000 following the original plans by Alvar Aalto. Alteration and repair plans were by Iivanainen & Mustonen Architects. Villa Tammekann is now the Granö Centre of the universities of Turku and Tartu.
The Turku University Foundation has received the Europa Nostra Prize for the excellent reconstruction and restoration.