Ferdinand Salokangas’ Architecture in Rovaniemi

Architect Ferdinand Salokangas was called to lead the reconstruction of Rovaniemi during 1945–1948, and afterwards he managed his own office and stayed in Rovaniemi until 1956. Beside well known architect Alvar Aalto, Salokangas is the main protagonist of the reconstruction period in Rovaniemi. Ferdinand’s original production counts seventeen building still on site nowadays. His production may be even larger than research has been able to confirm. Documents from his private archives show that other buildings – in addition to the seventeen known ones – designed by him have been completed (a small hospital for the Red Cross, saunas, monuments, chapels, hotels etc.). Because of insufficient data, it is often impossible to define their location. As we learn more about Salokangas’ work, we may be able to find out about other buildings designed by him.The diverse production of Salokangas met excellently the needs of the reconstruction period. He accepted many public orders for administrative buildings and different kinds of apartment blocks etc., but also some private orders for single-family houses. Although his work in Rovaniemi only covers a rather short period, it shows, from the first designs on, features of the decorativeness of Romanticism and the influence of the Modernism of the late 1950’s.
Here are few examples from Salokangas’ architecture.

Rovaniemi Fire Station, Rovaniemi, Koskikatu 61, 1949

In this design, the Salokangas’ simple style of post-war architecture is combined with creative details, such as the hewn roof props that are made of wood. In addition, the walls of the fire tower have been inlaid with tile and slate decorations. However, the most noteworthy details are found at the top of the tower, where there is a hole in the shape of an amoeba. The railing with the fantasy motif that the original design contained was never realized.


Apartment block for primary school teachers, Kansankatu 11, 1953

In terms of its general appearance, this four-floor building with its bay windows on the gable differs from the other typical apartment blocks of the period – thanks to the creative touch of Salokangas. As in the teachers’ apartment block of Rantavitikka, we notice the zigzagging of the roof in this building, too. As a result of the indented balconies, empty space and the wall of the façade alternate, and the different materials (plaster, tile and the white metal of the balcony railings) create a strong contrast. These features make the façade interesting and enrich the visual whole. The balcony railings and the French balconies of the gable – which faces the street – provide a finishing touch to the architecture of the building. The estate has been modernized in the 1990s.

The Town Hall of Rovaniemi Market Town and the caretaker’s house, Rovaniemi, Valtakatu 18, 1948

This town hall is considered as Salokangas’ main work. The building was erected in the place where the old office building of the market town had situated before it was destroyed in 1944. The former office building had been rectangular in shape, but the building designed by Salokangas was erected on a triangular site on the street that had been named Aallonkatu after Alvar Aalto.

The building, which was finished in 1948, had business premises at street level and offices and flats for officials on the other floors. In terms of the mass, the building is simple and shows traces of pre-war functionalism. Its public nature is hidden behind the façade, which gives the impression of a private building. Only the fact that the building is skilfully set in the urban landscape provides it with the dignity of a public building.

The rigidness of the faces of the building is softened by the ample ornamentation that was so dear to Salokangas. The balconies that are decorated with stars and especially their railings catch the eye. The other details – for example, the decoration of the roof of the main entrance and the treatment of the door frame – give an impression of elegance and originality.


Text: Charlotte Malaprade            
Pictures: Jukka Suvilehto