Haukilahti Water Tower

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Photo: Risto Kamunen / MFA
  • PlaceEspoo
  • Completion 1968
  • Decade1960s
  • PeriodThe rise of the welfare state
  • Year of selection2017


Water towers are an essential part of the Finnish post-war landscape undergoing urbanization. The Haukilahti water tower, built on the highest point of the terrain in southeast Espoo, is closely associated with the identity of the city and is unique in regard to its building structure, architecture and setting within the landscape. Its recognizable form dominates both the near and distant environment. The tower is visible far out at sea in the Gulf of Finland and it acts as a landmark for drivers along the Länsiväylä motorway.

Artistic influences from Constructivism, Futurism and the space romanticism of the 1960s are evident in the tower. According to the architect, the flying-saucer shape was inspired by the American cartoon series The Jetsons.

The construction and structural engineering of the tower were at the time unique in Finland. The water tank is half-spherical and rests on a concrete central tower and six thinner surrounding pillars. On top of the water tank, in opposition to the spherical dome, is a circular restaurant with viewing terraces. The original concrete shells were cast in moulds built on the ground and then raised into place by hydraulic cranes to a height of approximately 40 metres. The calculations for the sphere shells were at the time a challenging task, and computers available at the time were used.

The Haukilahti water tower is the only one in the metropolitan area that is publically accessible, and its public use is an integral part of its significance and value. The restaurant and viewing terrace make it a popular tourist attraction.

Almost half of Finland’s nearly five hundred water towers were built in the 1960s and 1970s. The approaching age when buildings require renovation often means re-evaluating their appropriateness. For example, the Lauttasaari water tower in Helsinki, built in 1959, which was the first major conical water tower in the country, was taken out of use due to its technical obsolescence and poor condition. An alternative use and repair of the water tower was under consideration for a long time but finally in 2015 the tower was demolished.

The Haukilahti water tower, however, is still in its original use as part of Espoo’s water management. It was renovated in 2011-2012, carefully preserving its original appearance. For example, the tower’s weathered spherical roof dome was completely dismantled and rebuilt. The new spherical dome was made according to the same proportions as the original, so the character of the building remained unchanged.


Anna Autio

Asola, Ismo (2003). Vesitorni – yhdyskunnan maamerkki. Keuruu: Otavan Kirjapaino Oy.
Hovinen, Juha (2012): ”Haukilahden vesitornin peruskorjaus”. Betoni 4/2012.
Lehtovuori, Panu & Prokkola, Janne (2010). Haukilahden vesitorni. Rakennushistoriaselvitys. Helsinki: Livady Osakeyhtiö. http://www.livady.fi/293/haukilahti1.pdf (haettu/accessed 18.12.2016).