Erik Bryggman’s Villas

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Photo: Villa Nuuttila. Simo Rista / MFA
  • PlaceKaarina , Turku
  • Completion 1920s–40s
  • Decade1920s
  • PeriodConstructing the identity of a newly independent nation
  • Year of selection1993


Erik Bryggman’s villas are perhaps his most personal architectural works. Building locations for villas in the archipelago were in the early 1900s not yet strictly regulated, so it was possible to select a location for the building that was both scenically and architecturally the most optimal and beautiful. Bryggman’s small and intimate villas attracted attention already at the time of their construction and demonstrated his ability to create a humane architecture that merged with nature. Also, his relationship to art is emphasized in these small summer villas, every detail of which was given careful consideration.

Villa Solin (1927-29) was created in the transition period between Nordic Classicism and Functionalism. The sketches show the influence of Gunnar Asplund’s villa architecture and in particular the Italian architettura minore. Bryggman drew up the final plans for the villa after returning from a trip to Italy. The site of the villa in Katariinanlaakso is a valley between two hills, from where views open up towards the sea, and is of cultural-historical and ecological significance.

The front courtyard of Villa Solin is demarcated by side walls and a hip-roofed outbuilding parallel to and the same length as the pitch-roofed main building. One enters the courtyard along a path with flagstone paving that cuts through the outbuilding, where originally the garage and caretaker’s dwelling were located. On the side of the house facing the sea is a veranda wing, the flat roof of which also serves as a terrace. The lobby and entrance hall have, characteristic for Bryggman’s architecture, a floor made of large-sized bricks. The classicist influences are also evident in the interior colours: the walls are painted with stucco, the mouldings are painted olive green and the doors in black. The marble stairs with a Functionalist-style railing lead directly to the upstairs vaulted hall, with a fireplace also in the Functionalist style.

The City of Turku bought the villa in 1963 and rented it out to Turku associations, until in the year of the Bryggman centenary anniversary when it was renovated for use as reception spaces.

Villa Erstan (1928-29) is like a small classical temple situated high on a cliff at the tip of the island of Kakskerta. The gable end is supported by four Tuscan-style wooden columns. The name of the site, “Tusculum”, was a reflection of the client’s vision for the architecture of the villa.

The villa is two storeys. Downstairs is a living room the width of the building, the side walls of which have tall windows, and in the middle of the inner wall is a fireplace with classical columns. Upstairs, under the roof planes, are sleeping spaces and a row of windows.

At the gable end facing the yard, above the kitchen stairs, was later built a porch supported by columns. Otherwise, the summer villa surrounded by pine forest has preserved well its original features.

The Villa Solin guest building (1929), located in Hirvensalo, is part of a villa complex built at the beginning of that century, for which Bryggman had already in 1925 designed a new veranda. The guest building is a low, modest, traditional two-room cottage with a pitched roof, where the interior and exterior walls were built from three-inch planks. The building’s details, such as the porch with balustrade and stylized columns, make it a significant architectural feat. The guest building is located on a plot neighbouring Villa Palmroos (1917), also designed by Bryggman.

Villa Warén (1932-33) is located in the shelter of the cliffs of Oskarvuori in Ruissalo, Turku. When designing the villa, Bryggman wanted to protect the existing trees, so he drew a curved recess around a pine growing in the corner of the plot. The Functionalist-style building follows the form of the terrain and the cliff edge. The building comprises three wings, each for a different function, together defining a yard space. Next to the living-room picture window is a tall fireplace chimney, which stands out against the form of the white-rendered, low and minimalist villa.

The villa’s exterior render has been repaired and the interior has been renovated. For example, the original classical olive-green colour scheme of the living room has been restored.

Villa Ekman (1933), situated in Hirvensalo, was built at the same time as Villa Warén and completed by midsummer of 1933. In Villa Ekman, too, the different functions are placed in separate wings following the form of the terrain. The main body of the building comprises the tall, mono-pitch-roofed living-room wing, in front of which are different levelled terraces overlooking the sea. The living room has a white-rendered brick fireplace with a tall chimney that stands out in the exterior wall. The corner picture window, typical for Bryggman, is oriented towards the west. A corridor with a brick floor leads from the living room to the bedroom wing. A wide double door opens up from the corridor southwards into the courtyard terrace.

The white-rendered villa is Functionalist in appearance. The interior colour scheme was initially completely classical: olive green, grey-blue, reddish-brown and black. The façades were restored in the 2000s, and at the same time the interior, which up until then had been preserved in its original state, was painted white.

Bryggman also designed for the villa a lakeside sauna and small bathing hut. The sauna still remains, but the bathing hut was removed in the 1970s because it was in the way of the large Stockholm passenger ferries.

Villa Staffans (1945-46) is located on a scenic hillside on the island of Kakskerta overlooking the Vappari Strait. The villa is a three-part, tile-roofed building, the form of which follows the terrain. In regard to the floor plan, typical for Bryggman’s Functionalist villas, the villa is comprised of three wings, each with a separate function.

The external walls have a rough-cast render, and the foundation plinth is built from decorative natural stone. The terraces and pillars on the side facing the sea are also in natural stone. Different sized windows accentuate the façades’ asymmetrically. The building represents the romantic movement of the 1940s, where both the form and materials take into consideration the surrounding nature. Bryggman also designed the small family sauna built lower down the slope in 1946-47.

The villa functioned in the 1950s as the Kakskerta parish vicarage. Since 1963 the building has served as accommodation for the camp centre of the Turku and Kaarina parishes and nowadays also as a conference facility.

Villa Nuuttila (1947-53) is located in Kaarina, on the west shore of the island of Kuusisto in the shelter of a large glacial boulder. Some of the boulders that dominated the shoreline plot had to make way in Bryggman’s plan. The large oak trees on the plot were protected and the villa was built on the steep shoreline plot as a low, meandering and articulated sequence of buildings. The totality combines the magnificent scenery and the unique organic architecture that merges with it.

Villa Nuuttila rises up the slope like an Italian hillside villa. On a plateau at the top of the slope is the pitch-roofed main building comprising the living room and dining area. The entrance is located between the main building and the stepped bedroom wing. From the hall, brick stairs lead up to the living room and down to the bedroom wing. The building’s sea facade is dominated by the tall natural-stone chimney. The foundation plinth of the bedroom wing that descends the slope as well as parts of the terrace are covered with decorative stone slabs. The large picture windows in the living room offer magnificent views over the sea. The villa interior and the furniture were designed by Carin Bryggman. Bryggman also designed for the villa a shoreline sauna (1951) and jetty (1953).

The villa has been renovated with respect, following the instructions of the National Board of Antiquities. Unfortunately, the windows have, however, been replaced. The largest oak fell during a storm at the turn of the 2010s, but there are still old oaks on the grounds.


Helena Soiri-Snellman

Bryggman, Erik (1933). ”Huvila Ruissalossa, Huvila Hirvensalossa”. Arkkitehti 10/1933.
Bryggman, Erik (1952). ”Huvila Kuusistossa”, Arkkitehti 9–10/1952.
Laaksonen, Mikko (2016). Erik Bryggmanin arkkitehtuuri / Erik Bryggman: Works. Helsinki: Rakennustieto Oy.
Nikula, Riitta (toim./ed.), Erik Bryggman 1891–1955 arkkitehti, arkitekt, architect. Helsinki: Suomen rakennustaiteen museo.
Soiri-Snellman, Helena (2004). ”Hirvensalon villat”. Kalhama, Maija-Liisa et al. (toim.), Hirvensalo eilen, tänään ja huomenna. Turku: Turun maakuntamuseo.