Industrial Centre

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Photo: Toivo Gronroos / MFA
  • PlaceHelsinki
  • Completion 1953
  • Decade1950s
  • PeriodPost-war modernism
  • Year of selection1993


Teollisuuskeskus Oy (Industrial Centre Ltd), created by the Confederation of Finnish Industry and Employers, organised in 1948 an architectural competition for the design of their offices. The competition room programme also included a hotel, which was intended firstly to accommodate VIP guests to the 1952 Olympic Games. The competition was won by Viljo Rewell and Keijo Petäjä, assisted by Osmo Sipari and Eero Eerikäinen. The design work during the implementation stage was continued by Rewell and Petäjä. Despite the post-war material shortages, rising costs and strikes, the building was ready in time for the Olympic Games.

The rational strip-window façades and structural clarity of the building embody the ideals of modernism. The extensive use of schist and brick, however, are a reference to the post-war reconstruction era. The façade cladding consists of polished tiles made from a combination of white cement, crushed dolomite and dolomite powder, which at the time represented an advanced technology. Rewell had seen similar tiles on the construction site of Shell House in Copenhagen (Vilhelm Lauritzen, 1951). The Industrial Centre was also a pioneer in ventilation, in that it was the first time in Finland where the mechanical ventilation also included cooling.

The lower floors of the building were reserved for shops, and the top three floors housed the Palace Hotel, conference facilities and a restaurant. The head designer for the interior was Olli Borg, who was responsible in particular for the design of the hotel and grill restaurant. Antti Nurmesniemi designed the sauna sections, which included stools and tables with legs in imported teak wood.

For economic reasons, a garage intended for the first floor was converted during the construction stage into business premises, though they soon proved unprofitable.

Several functional changes have been carried out in the building over the decades. The sauna facilities, as well as the first-floor cafe and restaurant, have been changed into office and conference spaces. The Palace Hotel was for a long time a luxury hotel, but in the 2010s it too was replaced by offices and its famous restaurant, which had operated on the 9th floor since the 1952 Olympics, was closed down.

With these changes, also the interior has been radically renewed. However, some of the corridors, lift lobbies, central brick walls, as well as the street-level entrance lobby with its schist floor, have been preserved. The schist initially continued all the way out to the pavement, but it was replaced in the 1990s with asphalt.

Over the years, also the building’s external appearance has undergone many changes. But with renovations starting in 2016 and continuing for many years, the building will undergo a complete renewal. The white concrete facade elements will be renewed, but the type of material and element subdivision will be retained. The windows, which were renewed already in the 1970s, will be replaced with new wood-aluminium ones. The roof covering and roof-terrace handrails will be renewed. As the materials are to be renewed throughout, the authenticity will be lost, but as a result of in-depth research and thorough design work it is nevertheless expected that the result, in terms of the cityscape and architecture, will be impressive.


Leena Makkonen

Arkkitehtitoimisto Sarc (2009). Teollisuuskeskus. Eteläranta 10, Helsinki. Rakennushistorian selvitys.  
Härö, Mikko (1992). ”Turistit ja matkailupalvelut”. Vainio, Sinikka (toim./ed.), Olympiakaupunki Helsinki. Olympiastaden Helsingfors. Helsinki – The Olympic City. 1952. Memoria 7. Helsinki: Helsingin kaupunginmuseo.
Niskanen, Aino (1989). ”Kokeilujen aika. Betoni 1940- ja 50-lukujen arkkitehtuurissa / A time of experimentation: The use of concrete in architecture of the 1940s and 1950s”. Kaipia, Jouni (toim./ed.). Tehdään betonista. Betoni suomalaisessa arkkitehtuurissa. Suomen betoniteollisuuden keskusjärjestö 1929-1989 / Concrete in Finnish Architecture. Helsinki: Suomen rakennustaiteen museo.
Rewell, Viljo (1954). ”Oy teollisuuskeskus Ab. Konttori- ja hotellirakennus”. Arkkitehti 3-4/1954.
Standertskjöld, Elina (2008). Arkkitehtuurimme vuosikymmenet 1930-1950. Helsinki: Suomen rakennustaiteen museo, Rakennustieto Oy.

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