Säynätsalo Town Hall 1949-52

Säynätsalo town hall, designed by Alvar Aalto, represents Aalto’s architecture at its best. A contest was held by the municipality of Säynätsalo in 1949 and the town hall was finished in December 1951. The town hall started a new era in the productions of Alvar Aalto, of which the most significant mark was the use of the red brick.

Säynätsalo town hall is a building with many functions. The local council and library works there. The building also includes residential spaces, business rooms and guest rooms. The building
is meant to be used by ordinary people but it is also designed for administrative tasks. Aalto wanted this to be shown also outwards. That’s why there is a certain hierarchy in the building. The council chamber is on the highest level, which also presents its authority.

The main factor describing the building is the courtyard, patio. Aalto meant it to be a place for people to hang around, a piazza. On the side of the fountain is a sculpture of Wäinö Aaltonen, called ‘Tanssijatar”, dancer. One of the most interesting architectural innovations is the roof of the council chamber where the wooden structures can be seen. Aalto called this structure “Perhoset”, butterflies. Aalto designed the town hall as a whole piece of artwork, which can be seen in small details and in furniture designed specifically for the building.

RENOVATION 1995–1998

Säynätsalo town hall is an internationally renowned monument in modern architectural history. On account of its architectural significance the town hall’s courtyard grouping was protected by a building preservation law 3 § 2 on 301 of May 1994. Säynätsalo municipality had become part of the city of Jyväskylä in 1993, which also meant that town hall now belonged to the city of Jyväskylä.

Renovation began in 1995 since there were damages caused by moisture in the building. The condition of the external covering and inner spaces was already satisfactory before the renovation, but the roof was generally in a bad state and there were leaks in several places. The technical standard of the services had become obsolete, too.

The exterior of the building had remained almost in its original form. lnterior spaces in the council chamber, entrance hall, meeting room of the local government and in the corridor encircling the inner courtyard had even their details remained in the original forms. The basis for the renovation plan was the original use of the building. The preservation ruling presupposed this. All the spaces were thus completely restored.

Added stairway in the eastern office section from the 1970s was removed during the renovation. Also the apartments on the upper level, occasionally used by the municipal office, were reinstated as apartments.

Other alterations and repairs (except some changes concerning space and constructional and technical services) were carried out according to the original style and plan. Only broken or damaged parts were repaired. Patina of time and use of the building was left visible in those parts, which were not renewed.

Correcting the moisture problem from the structure of the building was vital for the preservation of the building and for a healthy residential and work environment. lt was important to save the old materials and details in the building for the future generations.

The renovation was completed in 1998, just in time for the centenary of Alvar Aalto’s birth.
The renovation was planned by the house-planning unit of the technical service centre of the town of Jyväskylä. The town-housing unit was responsible for construction and the town-planning department for instrumentation.

The National Board of Antiquities and Monuments and Alvar Aalto Museum supervised the execution of the conservation ruling.