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The Metaphorical World of Kalevala and its Influence on Architecture in Finland

Part 2 Dissertation 2015
Mirja-Anneli Kiviniemi
Robert Gordon University, UK
While writing about Finnish National Romantic architects, historian Kenneth Frampton claims that “the basic inspiration behind all their work was the Finnish folk epic, the Kalevala”. Kalevala is often associated with the work of influential Finnish architects yet the world behind the name is not understood; what is the connection between folk poems and architecture?

The runes of Kalevala were written down in 1835 by Elias Lönnrot yet they have been sung for centuries. They include a strong description of the characteristics of Finnish people and scenery; passed on from generation to generation, the poems illustrate the life of our ancestors, their habits and beliefs as well as their attitudes towards built environment.

This dissertation aims to open the world of Kalevala to the readers and shed light on its important role in the history of Finland and its architecture. It is a discussion of primal, almost unconscious, attitudes towards built environment which are strongly linked to the Nordic region and landscape. Furthermore, the study introduces a concept of “Cultural and Aesthetic DNA”, according to which people carry within them certain “DNA” of their region. It is about understanding Finland’s history, understanding its cultural roots and therefore, understanding its architecture.

Mirja-Anneli Kiviniemi

David McClean
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