Kainula – hiljainen Aalto: A Monograph of One of Alvar Aalto’s Lesser-Known Works

Pirjo Mikkonen-Joublanc

Working paper
Alvar Aalto Researchers Network 2012


The Kainula Settlement House, situated on a hillside lot in Kajaani, northeastern Finland, and built during Aalto's red- brick era, is a rarity in many ways. Its classrooms wind themselves on an intimate scale around the heart of the building; a seating area around a fireplace bathed in ample natural light. The apartments have their own stairwell. The building's commissioner, the local association of the Finnish Federation of Settlements, aimed to create a "living home" for people in need of education and culture. The building's most valuable feature, the assembly hall, is dominated by the asymmetrical beams of a ceiling cast in reinforced concrete.

The objective of the book is to raise awareness of Alvar Aalto's only work in Kainuu and to support its restoration. The history of the origins and construction of the building (completed 1957) is closely interlinked with local history and the political events of the time. 236 original drawings, Kainula's own archive, interviews with contemporaries of the building's construction and a series of historical and recent colour photographs make up the book's research material.

Kainula is a rare gem due to its authenticity. The building has never undergone a full restoration. The energetic teaching and cultural activities that took place there confirm that the building was a success and met the challenges set by the Settlement movement's needs.


Alvar Aalto’s Kainula, 1954–57. © Astrid Joublanc.

KAINULA – HILJAINEN AALTO by Pirjo Mikkonen-Joublanc. 168 p. Pata 2011. ISBN 978-952-67560-0-4.

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Pirjo Mikkonen-Joublanc