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Photo: Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Oy


The architecture of Haltia turns knowledge into an experience. Haltia surrounds the visitor with a world of tale and myth where both the ancient and current nature of Finland are present. The inspiration for the design has come from the culture of Kalevala. 

Haltia was designed by Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects Ltd, with professor Rainer Mahlamäki as the head designer. Because the design came from the pen of a single architect, it forms a harmonious whole. Haltia represents Finnish environmentally-aware architecture, and the end result is a modern but intimate design.

The cornerstones of Haltia's design

  • Ecology: the environment has been taken into account in all details of design and use 
  • Functionality: the Haltia facilities are very versatile, flexible and adaptable 
  • Technically advanced: thanks to the latest technologies, Haltia is one of the most eco-friendly buildings in its field

The first public building built entirely of massive wood elements

Haltia is the first public building in Finland built entirely of massive wood elements, launching a new era of building in the country. Wood has been used in every aspect of construction from the supporting structures to the cladding. 

The frame of the building – the walls, roof and floors – have been built from prefabricated solid-wood panels known as cross-laminated timber.

Traditional meets modern, man meets nature

In Haltia’s design, curving free lines meet a rectangular, rational world, symbolising the encounter between nature and the world constructed by man. The arched and straight lines exhibit the various dimensions of building with wood: the possibilities of joinery as well as the combination of on-site building and, on the other hand, straight-lined prefabrication, in addition to the various traditional and modern wood processing methods.

Power from the Sun

The roof of the building is decked with grass that binds carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The solar collectors and panels on the roof as well as the water collectors have been incorporated into the design to remind us that the sun and water are the sources of all life.

Location as part of the design

The picture shows Haltia in the evening lightHaltia has been designed to blend in with its location. It is magnificently surrounded by the very symbols of Finnish nature: the bedrock, a lake and a forest. The architecture reflects the Finns’ unique relationship with nature and their nurturing of the environment and its wellbeing. 

Haltia’s north face is protected inside the rock, which makes the symbolism of the north quite concrete: the cold, the darkness and the need to curl up against it. The southern face of the building, on the other hand, reaches towards the lake scenery and reflects the significance of the south: openness, light and warmth. 

The sweeping curve of the north wall draws Haltia snugly into the rock's embrace. The room outlined by the curved wall houses Haltia’s exhibitions, which also play their role in capturing the original idea behind the design: the creation myth of Kalevala with a duck's egg. The tower reaches up in the air like a bird’s neck. 

Haltia settles into the steeply sloping lot and landscape as naturally as a bird in its nest.