- Completion 1933
- PeriodConstructing the identity of a newly independent nation
- Year of selection1993
Founded in 1920, the central task of the building department of the Central Finnish Cooperative Society (SOK) was to design the company’s production plants and cooperative shops located in different parts of the country. Erkki Huttunen, who began working at the department in 1928, soon rose to become the department’s most significant architect. It was to a great extent through him that the new form and design principles of Functionalism spread to the architectural design of the SOK cooperative shops.
The emphasis in shop design already in the 1920s was placed on the convenience and simplicity of the shop building, as well as on practical solutions such as the shop’s elongated shape and dividing it into sections, large display windows, tidiness and brightness. The shopkeeper’s apartment was often placed on the floor above the shop. The architectural form language of these shops used historical stylistic elements or otherwise a style compatible with the local building tradition. This was also the case in Huttunen’s first design from May 1929 for the Aitta Cooperative village shop in Sauvo. His design principles, however, then changed quickly, in particular due to new influences from the architectural design of cooperative shops in Sweden. The following year, he designed both SOK’s mill in Viipuri and their offices in Rauma following Functionalist design principles. At the end of 1931 Huttunen made a completely new design for the Sauvo shop, which drew inspiration from international modernism, and the building and its interiors was constructed in 1933 in accordance with the new design.
The Aitta Cooperative’s “Functionalist shop” was the first of a modern shop type designed at the SOK building department, and it served as a basis for tens of similar shop buildings built in the countryside in the 1930s. The characteristic features of the oblong, two-storey brick building are its large shop windows and white-rendered facades. It also has a gently sloping mono-pitched roof, but with the impression of a flat roof due to the raised end walls. At the time, the purist form language of the first Functionalist-style shop caused consternation.
In the 1960s the shop building was converted into a café and bar. Nowadays it is again a shop and the upper floor is still in use as an apartment. The exterior appearance of the building, now protected in the town plan, is well preserved and has been spared the kind of additions that has often changed the appearance of similar shops.