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The President of the Republic of Finland: Official residences: Mäntyniemi

The President of the Republic of Finland

Architect Raili Pietilä: Mäntyniemi

THE MÄNTYNIEMI SITE accommodates three separate buildings: the President's Residence, the Gatehouse with its control rooms, and the caretaker's detached house for two families. These are all located on a cape jutting into the sea. The dominant building, the President's Residence, is sub-divided into four functional areas: a private residence, reception rooms, the office wing and staff facility spaces. This division is also clearly distinguishable and reflected in the building's shape; the office wing and the tall reception spaces are situated at a higher level than the lower private rooms which are around in a ribbon shape.

To preserve existing vegetation was a primary objective during construction and supplementary planting with blueberries and heather was later added. Besides existing apple trees, newer trees, birches and rowans have also been planted in a landscaping designed by Maj-Lis Rosenbröijer. The old shore cabin which used to form part of the site was also preserved during construction and its renovation supervised by Kirsti Kasnio and Merja Härö.

The facades of the building change from the tight entrance area to the more open sea facing spaces. Viitasaari red granite has been used on both the residence and gatehouse facades. All windows are steel framed and trimmed with copper edging externally and white timber profiling internally. Heating occurs in the space between the inner and outer window surfaces. This space between the two planes gives the facade a twisting effect where the inside and the outside of the building can be observed simultaneously.

The building follows the contours of the bedrock and site vegetation, adjusting to them and drawing motifs from them. The curved shape of the building gives no single facade but takes shape continually section by section. The verticality of the high windows contrasts with the tree trunks in the surroundings; the windows facing different directions pick up the reflecting branches. Each room in the private residence opens onto its own terrace which is adjoined to the underlying ground by supporting natural stone walling. The principal reception room, the 'large salon', leads directly out onto a wide 'sea terrace'.

The general colour used inside the building is white. The folding suspended ceilings and wall surfaces carry the light deep into the building. A major principle for the design was the idea of a 'winter house' where the low winter light is faceted and gains new directions, creating new forms. Thus the interior of the building changes throughout the day, throughout the seasons where the natural surroundings are visible through the shadows of moving branches reflected and penetrated deep within the building.

Criteria for materials, fittings and furnishing were domesticity and durability; aspects which contributed to the choice of relatively traditional methods and materials. Wooden surfaces are protected by oil treatment and waxing, outdoor surfaces coated with oil paint. The inside walls were hand painted with tempered colours. The timber cover for the pier and the handles for the sheet copper clad entrance doors are made from larch. The floors in the private rooms and the receptions rooms are made of oak, prepared with hot beeswax. Various Finnish natural stones are used throughout the building; the floors in the entrance and elsewhere are from Viitasaari granodiorite and Sotkamo migmatite is used in the sauna section.

All reception and private rooms, bathrooms, toilets, kitchen facilities and the furniture for the main rooms have been design by Antti Paatero, combining different wood and stone types. The textiles in the principal rooms - curtains, carpets and upholstery - were designed by Irma Kukkasjärvi. The eight natural stone fireplaces in the halls and lounges constitute a guiding system for any visitor in the way of signalling fire. The central rooms exhibit various works of art. In the entrance hall the relief Lemminkäinen's travels is by Reijo Paavilainen. On the rear wall of the dining salon is a painting, The Same Blood in us all by Kimi Pakarinen. In the president's study-library there is a transparent woven textile work by Irma Kukkasjärvi. The staircase adjoining the private dwelling to the reception areas turns on a large, ceramic relief by Rut Bryk. This work called The Icy Stream traverses the entire height of the wall. On the wall near the fireplace corner on the so called 'saunapath' is a rug ('ryijy') by Maisa Kaarna called Amidst Old Pines.

extract from tangoMÄNTYNIEMI
Painatuskeskus 1994
edited by Roger Connah

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Updated 6/24/2009

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