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WORDS AND DEEDS:
NATIONAL STYLE VERSUS MODERNITY IN
FINNISH ARCHITECTURE, 1890-1916:
THE WRITINGS OF VILHO PENTTILÄ AND THE ARCHITECTURE OF
A Thesis Submitted for the Degree of PhD
University of St Andrews Full metadata for this item is available in Research@StAndrews:FullText
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http://hdl.handle.net/10023/318 This item is protected by original copyright This item is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence
WORDS AND DEEDS:
NATIONAL STYLE VERSUS MODERNITY IN
FINNISH ARCHITECTURE 1890-1916:
THE WRITINGS AND WORK OF VILHO PENTTILÄ
AND THE ARCHITECTURE OF FINANCIAL
CHARLOTTE ASHBYSubmitted in application of the degree of Ph.D in the University of St Andrews, 4th September 2006.
ABSTRACTThis thesis examines the question of the extent to which the concept of a National Style dominated architectural production in Finland between 1890 and 1916.
The thesis maintains that National Style ideas should be understood as one of a number of impulses emerging in Finnish architecture in the 1890s. This point is explored through analysis of the writings of the architect, journalist and Finnish nationalist Vilho Penttilä.
His writings reveal that alongside the National Style he was also concerned with the general question of architectural reform in Finland. This thinking included new ideas on the role that materials, construction and new technology should play in shaping architectural design. Alongside this ran interest in the development of a new language of architectural ornament capable of expressing the character of the building and the society who used it.
International architecture was frequently referred to as a model in relation to the National Style and architectural reform in general. Comparison is made to other writings within the Finnish architectural press.
The thesis is tested through the examination of a case study: the buildings of Penttilä for the National Joint-Stock Bank [KOP] and the architecture of financial buildings in general, with further comparison made, where relevant, to the broader architectural field. This allows for the comparison of the work of a large number of architects and prestigious projects throughout the country. The study reveals that, just as was indicated through the analysis of architectural journalism, National Style ideas were explored alongside other concerns related to architectural reform. National Style features began to disappear in the mid-1900s, subsumed within the drive to find new architectural forms to reflect the modern age and Finland’s hopes for the future. This was found to be the case even in relation to Penttilä’s work for KOP, where both the architect and the institution were committed to the Finnish nationalist movement.
2.i NATIONAL STYLE: THE VERNACULAR MODEL:Penttilä’s Writings for Suomen Teollisuuslehti and the 26 Development of National Style Thinking in Finland.
Firstly I would like to thank my supervisor Jeremy Howard for seeing me through the last five years, his constant enthusiasm for my research, and particularly for his help during the writing up. I also received support from a number of Finnish academics, in particular my supervisor in Finland, Annika Weanerberg, from the University of Jyväskylä; Riitta Nikula at the University of Helsinki and Eija Rauske at the Museum of Finnish Architecture. I also benefited from the opportunity to discuss my work with Pekka Korvenmaa at the Helsinki School of Design and Tiina Merisalo at the Helsinki Museum.
During the course of my research I have received assistance in numerous institutions and I would particularly like to thank Erkki Vanhakoski, Timo Tuomi and other members of staff at the Museum of Finnish Architecture, also Jorma Pennanen at the Bank of Finland and Esko Vuorisjärvi, Tuula Salo and Arja-Anneli Eerola at Nordea Bank.
I also benefited from the assistance of archivists from across Finland, who responded to all my enquiries, helped me find the material I needed and showed interest in my research. I would like to thank, Lotta Mattila at the Turku Regional Museum; Ulla Nieminen, Hämeenlinna City Museum; Pasi Kovalainen, Pohjois-Pohjanmaa Museum; Pirjo Jantunen, Kuopio City Museum; Riitta Hänninen, Lahti City Museum; Outi Penninkangas, Vapriikki Museum Centre; Tiina Leinonen, Kymenlaakson Regional Museum; Ritva Saarinen, Jyväskylä, Museum of Centre Finland; Tuomas Kunttu, Kouvola Library; Raija Hänninen, Sysmä Savings Bank; Anu Haapala, Virolahti Museum; Pertti Launonen, Iisalmi Building Control department, as well as staff at the National Archives in Helsinki and Mikkeli and at the National Board of Antiquities. I would also like to thank staff at the City Archives in Oulu, Tampere, Kotka, Iisalmi, Lahti, Turku, Hämeenlinna, Jyväskylä and Tornio.
My research would not have been possible without the financial support I received from the Arts and Humanities Research Council. I also received support for my research trips across Finland from the Centre for International Mobility, Helsinki; The Carnegie Institute; The Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain; The Confederation of Scandinavian Societies of Great Britain and Ireland and the Tessa Trethowan Memorial Fund at the University of St Andrews.
Finally, I would like to thank my parents Leena and Julian Ashby for their emotional and financial support and my mum’s help with translation; Lalla and Justus Raatikainen for making me so welcome in their home; Elli, Jaakko, Esko, Kaisa and Minna Helkavaara for encouraging me with my Finnish; my friends in Helsinki and London, for encouraging me generally; Tash Banks, Peter Clasby, Leslie Harris and my mum for their work proof reading and finally my partner, Alex Szyjanowicz, who now knows more about Finnish architecture than he ever wanted to and who has supported me all the way.
1.i INTRODUCTION “We are no longer Swedes. We do not wish to be Russians. So we must be Finns.” 1 This famous quote by the Finnish nationalist philosopher Adolf Ivar Arwidsson in the 1820s illustrates one of the core challenges facing those who strove to formulate and promote Finnish national identity in the nineteenth century. A backwoods province of the Swedish crown since the fourteenth century, ceded to Russia in 1809, Finland had little in the way of heroes or illustrious history to draw upon in the creation of national pride and identity. 2 Arwidsson’s quote reveals that is was easier to define Finland in terms of what she was not, rather than what she was. And yet, Awidsson’s vison, ‘we must be Finns’, was realised and an independent Finnish state came into existence for the first time in 1917.
Much of the labour of developing Finnish national consciousness was played out in the cultural sphere. Writers, artists, architects and composers made vital contributions, making tangible the ephemeral reality of being Finnish.
From the mid-nineteenth century onwards, scholarly examination of the nation’s cultural history and appreciation for Finnish creative ingenuity has formed an important part of developing national consciousness in Finland. 3 Following the trauma of the First and Second World Wars the role of the arts and design in re-enforcing a shared sense of national identity and pride remained important. The cultural flowering that accompanied rising national consciousness in the 1890s and 1900s became regarded as a golden age and the work of Akseli Gallen-Kalela, Jean Sebelius, Eino Leino and others became understood Adolf Ivar Arwidsson (1791-1858) was a politician, journalist, author, poet and historian and part of the circle of Romantic-minded, Finnish nationalists based in Turku (Åbo in Swedish) in the early nineteenth century.
This absence of a glorious historic past is one of the reasons for the great significance the Kalevala legends, collected and composed in 1830, in the project of nation building in Finland. The Kalevala is discussed further on pages 39-40.
S. Ringbom, Art History in Finland before 1920, Helsinki 1986.
as examples of the synthesis of nationalist aspirations and creativity known as National Romanticism. 4 Interest in turn-of-the-century architecture in Finland began to rise in the 1960s and 1970s, in parallel with rising European-wide interest in the movement known as Art Nouveau.
During the 1980s and 1990s a significant body of Finnish scholarship on turn-of-thecentury architecture developed. 5 Some of this research was published in English. 6 Finnish researchers have also made an active contribution to international research projects looking at Art Nouveau, and strong contacts are maintained with Scandinavian and Baltic colleges working in this field, which have resulted in various collaborative publications and conferences. 7 The interest of English-language scholarship in Finnish architecture and design from the period around 1900 can be dated to the publication of John Boulton Smith’s 1976 book The Golden Age of Finnish Art: Art Nouveau and the National Spirit. 8 Following on from this publication were further English books, articles and exhibitions focussed on Finnish art and architecture. 9 This interest was related both to the revival of interest in the Art This current in art history is exemplified by the work of Onni Okkonen, who was a leading Finnish art historian of the period.
Exemplified by the work of Ritva Wäre (nee Tuomi), Marika Hausen, Anna-Lisa Amberg, Paula Kivinen, Ville Lukkarinen, Sixten Ringbom, Pekka Korvenmaa, Eeva Maija Viljo and Leena Ahtola-Moorhouse.
Architectural surveys, such as J. Moorhouse, et al., Helsinki Jugendstil Architecture 1895-1915, Helsinki 1987, architectural monographs, M. Hausen, et al., Eliel Saarinen: Projects 1896-1923, Helsinki 1990; P.
Korvenmaa, Innovation Versus Tradition: The Architect Lars Sonck, Helsinki 1991; V. Lukkarinen, Classicism and History : Anachronistic Architectural Thinking in Finland at the Turn of the Century : Jac. Ahrenberg and Gustaf Nyström., Helsinki 1989, and conceptual histories such as S. Ringbom, Stone, Style and Truth: The Vogue for Natural Stone in Nordic Architecture 1880-1910, Helsinki 1987 and P. Korvenmaa (ed), The Work of Architects : The Finnish Association of Architects 1892-1992, Helsinki 1992.
Finland is part of the Réseau Art Nouveau Network and Pan-Baltic co-operation has resulted in the following publications: S. Grosa (ed), Art Nouveau: Time and Space: The Baltic Sea Countries at the turn of the 20th Century, Riga 1999, the exhibition and book J. Howard (ed), Architecture 1900 : Stockholm, Helsinki, Tallinn, Riga, St Petersburg, Tallinn 2003 and the international seminar and publication A. Kurttila (ed), Architecture 1900: In a New Light, Stockholm 2005.
J. Boulton-Smith, The Golden Age of Finnish Art : Art Nouveau and the National Spirit, Helsinki 1976.
J. M. Richards, 800 Years of Finnish Architecture, Newton Abbot 1978, included a chapter on Finnish National Romanticism. In 1979 there was an exhibition of Finnish Art Nouveau at the Royal Scottish Museum, Edinburgh, corresponding with the release of a special edition of John Boulton-Smith’s book. In 1982 the RIBA hosted an exhibition on Lars Sonck devised by the Finnish Museum of Architecture. This was accompanied by articles on Sonck and Finnish Architecture in the Architectural Review, 1982, by Rory Nouveau movement and to interest in the phenomenon that became known as National Romanticism.
Art Nouveau, as a multifaceted, European and American design movement, has always proved difficult to define. In general it is characterised by driving aspirations for cultural renewal and reform, enthusiasm for the possibilities offered by new materials and new technology and a desire for authenticity, both in terms of materials, construction and craftsmanship, and more abstractly, in terms of fidelity to the character of the modern age, the function of the building and its national location. National Romanticism was a trend within Art Nouveau, in which this last concept was expressed with particular force. It can be understood as the urge to make architectural design worthy of and expressive of the national identity of the people for whom it was built. This vision of a National Style emerged in particular in countries and regions where the native people were subject to another, usually imperial power, and developed alongside nationalistic movements in literature and music and sometimes emancipatory political movements also. In these regions Art Nouveau thinking on design reform and the search for new and vital modes of expression in vernacular culture and the natural world were seized on as a means of stylistic renewal in which the character of the people and the character of the national landscape could also be expressed. Within these peripheral European nations, traditionally slow to react to new artist currents from the main cultural centres of Europe, the National Romantic variant of Art Nouveau found rich expression.
Within the field of research into National Romanticism, the case of Finland has been particularly well represented in English language scholarship. This is partially a reflection of the fact that, unlike many of the nations of interest to scholars of National Romanticism, Finland did not fall behind the iron curtain at the end of the Second World War. Her scholarly and cultural institutions were therefore not subject to the repressive regimes that Spence 40-49 and J.M. Richards 88-94. In the same year the journal Apollo ran a special issue on Finnish Art Nouveau and National Romanticism in vol. 115. In 1986 Finnish turn of the century painting was
represented in the Hayward Gallery, Arts Council exhibition and catalogue “Dreams of a Summer Night: