Karjaa Water Tower

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Photo: MFA
  • PlaceKarjaa
  • Completion 1951
  • Decade1950s
  • PeriodThe post-war reconstruction era
  • Year of selection1993


Beyond Helsinki, the main focus of architectural activity of architect Hilding Ekelund was the town of Karjaa. His mark in the town is visible equally in individual buildings as in town planning, as well even in the town’s building legislation. One might, with good reason, state that “Ekelund is the architect with the strongest impact on the townscape of Karjaa.” (Härö, 1997, 225) Although Ekelund’s design work in Karjaa includes, for instance, ecclesiastical buildings as well as the municipal offices, his most impressive single building project in the town is a utility structure – a water tower.

The Karjaa water tower is, rather typical for the 1950s, a cylindrical tower. It is located a little outside the town centre, on top of a rocky hill south of the railway station, but at 23 metres high on its site it forms a landmark in the townscape. The cylinder is clad in brick, and the water tank is supported from below by radial concrete pillars.

A particularly elegant feature of the overall composition is the separate narrow stairwell tower, which is connected to the main cylinder at the top via a narrow corridor with a Functionalist strip window. The stairwell tower culminates in an observatory, which opens out to the surrounding landscape through also through a Functionalist strip window. The stairwell tower and observatory, as well as the originally uniformly light rendered walls, give the tower a distinctively modernist appearance. On the other hand, the shallow vertical indentations in the façade of the main tower add a touch of classicism to the building.

Ekelund’s subsequent plans for the site included a museum centre, consisting of three buildings placed at the foot of the water tower. However, the plan did not progress beyond the draft stage.

The Karjaa water tower is still in its original use. The overall appearance of the building suffered greatly, however, when the render was replaced by corrugated metal sheeting, except for on the ground floor. In addition, the maintenance of the tower’s immediate surroundings has been lacking, and consequently the area has become partly afforested and overgrown, and thus the tower has lost its impact in the townscape. There are, however, no obstacles to returning the tower to its former glory.


Petteri Kummala

Arkkitehtuurimuseo (2012). Suomalaisia vesitorneja: www.mfa.fi/vesitornit (haettu/accessed 8.2.2017)
Härö, Mikko (1997) ”’Det ät bra att ha en person som ger köpingen sin stil’ – Kaupunginarkkitehti ja kauppala / ”’It is good if there is someone who can create a style for a town’ – The City Architect and the Township”; Tuomi, Timo; Paatero, Kristiina & Rauske, Eija (toim./eds.): Hilding Ekelund (1893–1984) arkkitehti arkitekt architect. Helsinki: Suomen rakennustaiteen museo.


Projects by same architect