Makkaratalo, Helsinki, 1967. Photo credit: Didrichsen Art Museum.
Makkaratalo, Helsinki, 1967. Photo credit: Didrichsen Art Museum.

50th anniversary of architect Viljo Revell’s passing

Saturday the 8th of November 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of architect Viljo Revell’s passing. Revell was born on the 25th of January 1910 in Vaasa and faced premature death on the 8th of November 1964 in Helsinki.

Revell is recognised as a progressive architect with a versatile career. He had a positive outlook on the architectural possibilities offered by swiftly developing building technology and industrial housing production. Internationally, his most well-known design is Toronto City Hall, Ontario, Canada, the design of which is based on the winning proposal designed together with Heikki Castrén, Bengt Lundsten and Seppo Valjus for an international architecture competition held in 1958. The building was completed in 1964.

Revell’s modernism changed with the nature of the project in line with the international ideals of architecture.
— Susanna Santala,’Viljo Revell and changing modernism’ in Viljo Revell: “It was teamwork, you see”. Didrichsen Art Museum, 2010, p. 28.

In Finland, the most well-known projects by Revell are, among others, the Kudeneule factory in Hanko (1955), Vatiala Chapel in Kangasala (1956–1960), Vaasa Centre Block (nowadays Rewell Center, 1958–1963) and many of the commercial buildings in Helsinki city centre. Among the most notable ones are Revell’s early project Lasipalatsi (The Glass Palace, 1935 together with Niilo Kokko and Heimo Riihimäki); Palace Industry Centre on Eteläranta 10 (1949–1953) together with Keijo Petäjä; and the controversial Makkaratalo building [Sausage House] which was executed as part of the City-Quarter development scheme (1960–1968) and which has recently been heavily altered and refurbished.

Viljo Revell was a man of vision. For him, architecture was not just a matter of designing individual buildings. Revell wanted them to comform to their surroundings and influence the public’s behaviour.
— Lauri Jääskeläinen, ‘Makkaratalo – a monument to the remaking of an urban quarter’ in Viljo Revell: “It was teamwork, you see”. Didrichsen Art Museum, 2010, p. 119.

More information about Revell’s life and career is available in English for example in the exhibition catalogue Viljo Revell: “It was teamwork, you see” published by Didrichsen Art Museum in 2010. The exhibition was on display at the museum in Kuusisaari, Helsinki between 13 February and 16 May, 2010.

Viljo Revell: "It was teamwork, you see". Exhibition catalogue by Didrichsen Art Museum, 2010.

Viljo Revell: “It was teamwork, you see”. Exhibition catalogue by Didrichsen Art Museum, 2010. Text in Finnish, Swedish and English.

Villa Didrichsen (1957) and the Art Museum extension (1964) provide a fine example of Revell's sophisticated villa architecture.

Villa Didrichsen (1957) and the Art Museum extension (1964) provide a fine example of Revell’s sophisticated villa architecture.