Rovaniemi Rural City 1983 - 1985

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The area was given a boost, when Eleanor Roosevelt visited the regional capital of Finnish lapland Rovaniemi in 1952. A 34 m2 log cabin was built in her honour. Over the years the cabin was extended in few occasions (first in 1965 and later on in 1978), and became a succesful tourist centre and souvenir shop.

As tourism grew stonger, the city of Rovaniemi decided to organise an invitational competition in 1982. The goal was to achieve a master plan and an architectural solution, in order to guide the development of the area according to local cultural values. Construction took place in two phases which were both completed by the summer of 1985.

The first phase consisted of the master plan, the extension and the interior design of the excisting cabin and the heating boiler house. In the second phase the North Pole gallery and the production building number two were erected.

The schedule and the developing program had lead to a solution which would not undermine the locality or the historical factors of the site. These main guidelines together with modern building technologies had given a base in which the architecture was based.

The project was first under a working title: Arctic circle`s art and crafts village. As the region of Lappland was declared as "Chrismas land" it also affected the project and it was given to the disposal of Santa Claus.

A new one-and-a-half storey gallery for craft workshops and stores was added to the east of the cabin. The architecture of the main building grows from the existing cabin. It was joined to the old part by a new entrance. The interior was designed mainly to have a wooden appearance including stores and counters.

The new buildings have composite frame structures of concrete, laminated timber and steel. The wood on the outside is mainly cladding made of storm-felled pine which is not that dissimilar in colour to the wood of the existing cabin.

The district heating boilerhouse and the observation tower hugs the the shape of the machinery inside it.

The North Pole gallery and the Production building number two are timber clad prefabricated structures designed to be erected very quicly in the short Arctic summer.


Program: Main building: 1 740 m2, Production house number two: 600 m2, North Pole gallery: 300 m2, District heating boilerhouse and observation tower: 30 m2
: City of Rovaniemi
: 15 000 000 FIM
Architectural design: ARRAK Arkkitehdit Oy / Hannu Kiiskilä arkkitehti SAFA, Matti Ratiola arkkitehti SAFA, Harri Hagan arkkitehti SAFA, Esko Rautiola arkkit yo, Asko Kinnunen arkkitehti SAFA / Harri Ahonen arkkit yo, Helmut Bagans arkkit yo, Timo Heikkilä arkkit yo, Riitta-Liisa Iid arkkit yo, Timo Karasalo arkkit yo, Risto Palmu rak.arkkit, Tarmo Peltonen arkkit yo, Taru Pessi arkkit yo, Johanna Sipiläinen-Määttä arkkit yo, Marjo Toivari rakennuspiirtäjä, Pertti Toivari arkkit yo, Kaisa Tynkkynen arkkit yo
Structural design
: Engineer office Lauri Mehto Ky
: Engineer office Olavi Pohjalainen Ky
Electrical design
: Engineer office Esko Laakso Oy
Puulehti 1-2/1986, Arkkitehti 5/1986, Arkitektur 10/1986, Byggekunst 7/1986, Arkitektur DK 10/1986, Suomi rakentaa 7 / Suomen rakennustaiteen museo, Helsinki 1986, Architectural Review March, 1990 Lontoo 1990, European Masters, Annual of Architecture, Barcelona 1987, Finnish Architecture / Scott Poole, New York 1992, Magyar épitömvészet 6 /1993 (Suomi-numero), Budabest
: Suomi Rakentaa 7, Suomen rakennustaiteen museo Helsinki 1986, Sports and Leisure, Brighton. 1986, Rakennettu puusta / Suomen rakennustaiteen museo 1996

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