Finnish Savings Bank

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Photo: Valokuvaamo E. Eriksson / MFA
  • PlaceKotka
  • Completion 1935
  • Decade1930s
  • PeriodConstructing the identity of a newly independent nation
  • Year of selection1993


The modernist bank building designed by P.E. Blomstedt was in its time boldly exceptional. Blomstedt did not strive for the solemnity typical of bank buildings even still in the1920s, but rather stressed objectivity. The relationship in the facade of the area of brightly coloured tiles to the precisely considered structural elements carries references to the Dutch artistic movement De Stijl, including the architecture of J.J.P. Oud and Gerrit Rietveld. The Savings Bank was the only one of Blomstedt’s buildings in which he used intense colours in the facade design. To harmonize with the turquoise tiles, the windows and doors were painted blue.

The Savings Bank was originally part of a larger complex, which incorporated the entire city block. In addition to the bank, the plan included a hotel and residential building. Of these only the bank premises were built, and only then significantly reduced. The part of the building on the street side is three storeys and the wing extending into the plot two storeys. The layout of the smooth-rendered, square-shaped main facade is structured by the vertical window of the stairwell, the strongly protruding balcony of the executive boardroom, as well as the glass and tiled surfaces below it.

The ascetic, yet colourful décor of the bank hall represented an entirely new concept at the time. It did not underline the prosperity of the banking institution, but rather emphasized the hygiene associated with the ideology of Functionalism. The change was significant when compared to, for example, the flashy interior décor that Blomstedt designed for the Union Bank building (1929) in Helsinki. The Savings Bank in Kotka was furnished with tubular-metal furniture intended for serial production, and with the floors covered with rubber matting. The tall and narrow bank hall is lit by three large windows. The wall opposite them is painted in light-blue oil paint, with its glossy and hard surface reflecting the daylight from the windows.

The bank hall was restored almost to its original state by Mikael Enegren and Heikki Lindroos in 1994. The rear work stations, as well as the interior of the boardroom, were rebuilt with furniture in the original spirit. The stone surface of the service counter was procured from Italy, and corresponds in colour and pattern exactly with the original. Part of the air conditioning and IT installations were hidden in the service counter. The blue and white rubber matting was restored. The original wooden benches and lamps were renovated. The original facade tiles had at some point been replaced, but the original iron windows and doors and their fittings have been preserved.


Elina Standertskjöld

Blomstedt, P.E. (1936). ”Kotkan Suomalainen Säästöpankki”. Arkkitehti 5/1936.
Enegren, Mikael & Lindroos, Heikki (1994). ”Kotkan Suomalainen Säästöpankki – 1963 Kotkan kaupungin rahatoimisto”. Arkkitehti 2–3/1994.
Standertskjöld, Elina (1996). P.E. Blomstedt 1900–1935. Arkkitehti. Helsinki: Suomen rakennustaiteen museo.


Projects by same architect

P.E. Blomstedt