Paimio Sanatorium

Greetings from Henna Helander
Paimio Sanatorium Foundation Director

“Paimio Sanatorium is a gift for all Finns. It was it in 1933 and it is it now.

Paimio sanatorium has always been characterized by a bright faith in the future. At one time there was no cure for tuberculosis either but still in the sanatorium things were developed further, work was done for a better world. For me the spirit of Paimio is to find open solutions.

The remoteness of the sanatorium is a challenge, but it is also a strength. From the roof terrace of the sanatorium, you can see the starry sky and the endless horizon. It is a place of peace and healing that is needed in this time.

This building is like the sun. I invite everyone to experience the starting point of the Paimio Sanatorium today, the beginning of the new era of this Paimio Sanatorium, when everything is still open and under construction, and at the same time so ready and perfect.”

Paimio Sanatorium is international yet experienced locally. Paimio Sanatorium has an international reputation, it has content from this time. Our task is to enjoy it, also to learn and develop the operations of the Paimio sanatorium for a better world

Paimio sanatorium considered Alvar Aalto’s breakthrough project

Paimio Sanatorium, designed by Aino and Alvar Aalto in 1929 and completed in 1933 as a tuberculosis hospital, is a global landmark of functionalist architecture.

Finnish architecture became an international concept, which built not only the Aalto’s reputation but also the Finnish national identity.

An open and anonymous architectural competition was held for the Paimio Sanatorium in 1929. The young architects Aino and Alvar Aalto won the competition for the tuberculosis sanatorium in Southwest Finland. The construction of the sanatorium took almost four years and was completed in 1933. The sanatorium is an exceptional complete work of art that exudes the connection between man and nature, and where architecture is a tool for healing.

The sanatorium, based on the Aalto’s winning design for a January 1929 competition, was an exceptional and holistic work of art, which focused on the healing properties of architecture, and its relationship with the human body. When planning Aalto oriented each building wing in the best possible air direction in terms of both light and temperatures.

On the outdoor terraces, patients could experience the soothing presence of the surrounding nature, the lightness of clean air, and the healing effect of pine forests. Bold concrete structures and advanced building technology were integral parts of architectural functionality and expression. The coloring of the interior of the building: the yellow floors of the main staircase, the colorful walls of the corridors, the soothing dark ceilings of the patient rooms and the code colors of the building technology, surprisingly inside the white outer shell.

The building complex was implemented down to the smallest detail of the furniture in Aalto’s view. Loose furniture was designed to serve the well-being of patients and the functionality of the architecture as well as the whole. The Paimio chair designed for the sanatorium became an icon of its era. The organic form of the chair was above all functional, it was designed as an armchair for the sick and easy to clean. The sculptural Paimio chair, still today, is one of the world’s best-known design classics.

According to the plans of Aalto’s office, a surgery wing was made in the main building as early as the end of the 1950s, and a residential building for caregivers separated from the main building in the 1960s. At the same time, the cell houses in the terraced house brought a new form of housing to the area. The area changed and developed.

Tuberculosis patients were treated in the sanatorium until the 1960s, after which it was gradually turned into a general hospital. Hospital operations ceased in the mid-2010s, and new purposes for the facilities have been discussed ever since. In spring 2014 the Foundation for the Rehabilitation of Children and Young People of the Mannerheim League for Children’s Welfare rented part of the premises.

At the moment Paimio Sanatorium is run by Paimio Sanatorium Foundation.

It’s clear that the building complex of the Paimio Sanatorium has an important and multidisciplinary role regionally, nationally and internationally.

Beauty is the harmony of purpose and form.

-Alvar Aalto