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The Markkamäki area of detached houses in Äänekoski is a uniform area of detached houses typical of the post-war reconstruction period. Photo by Jari Heiskanen (218182:1)

Built Heritage

The National Board of Antiquities helps to preserve built heritage by advising the authorities, communities and owners of buildings on questions of protection and land use.

There are approximately three million buildings in Finland. The northern location, natural conditions and the often sparse resources are behind the distinctive architectural tradition in Finland. Outside influences have been adopted to suit the Finnish conditions. Besides mutual characteristics, local conditions, differences in cultural landscape and ecological preconditions and building methods have created differing environments in different parts of the country.

The architecture located in the northern coniferous forest belt of Finland has for thousands of years been dominated by wood. The dominance of timber as a building material continued in rural areas as well as towns until the 1940s, and even since then it has kept its place as a material; this is particularly true for detached houses.  The old town in Rauma and Petäjävesi wooden church in the UNESCO world heritage list are evidence of the importance of wood in the Finnish architectural culture.

In addition to the dominating wooden architecture, stone architecture also has long tradition in Finland. The oldest stone buildings are medieval granite churches, castles and the more recent fortifications. Suomenlinna is the most significant fortification and is included in UNESCO’s world heritage list. Gradually during the 18th and 19th centuries the use of stone and brick became more common in urban architecture as well, with this trend initially developing in administrative and industrial buildings. Concrete and prefabricated construction methods are connected in Finland to the architectural heritage of the last few decades as creations of the industrial and post-industrial society.

Compared to other European countries, Finnish building stand is young. The statistics of building stand compiled in an age order are insufficient but, according to a gross estimation, there are fewer than 150,000 pre-1921 buildings in Finland which is ca. 5 % of the current number of buildings. A good 10 % of the building stand was built between 1921 and 1950. Consequently, over 80 % of buildings in Finland were completed after the World War II in the last 50 years. When this is measured in gross floor area, the proportion is even lower.

Very little pre-19th century architectural heritage remains, mainly only individual objects such as castles, churches and manor houses. Of the late 19th century/turn of the century architecture stone buildings in cities and wooden house districts, significant cultural buildings, city and town halls and other administrative buildings, educational establishment and institutions, village districts and individual farmhouses have remained.
Länsi pasilaa

The Built Welfare project


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Last updated 10.7.2015
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