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17.07.2020

Temppeliaukio Church, Helsinki

Temppeliaukio Church is a Lutheran church in Tölö District of Helsinki. The church was designed by architects and brothers Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen and opened in 1969. Built directly into a solid rock, it is also known as Rock and Rock Church.

Plans for Temppeliaukio / Tempelplatsen (Temple Square) began in the 1930s, when a plot of land was selected for construction and a design competition was held. The plan of J.S. Serena, winner of the second architectural design competition for the church, was interrupted in the early stages when World War II began in 1939. After the war there was another architectural competition, later won by Timo Suomalainen and Tuomo Suomalainen in 1961. For economic reasons, the proposed plan was reduced and the interior space of the church was reduced to about one quarter of the original plan. Construction finally began in February 1968, and the temple was completed for consecration in September 1969.

The interior was dug and built directly from hard rock and flooded with natural light that penetrates through a roof window surrounding the central copper dome. The church is often used as a concert venue because of its excellent acoustics. Acoustic quality is created by rough, almost untreated stone surfaces. The famous stone walls were not included in the original competition, although the Suomalainen brothers thought about this idea because they thought it was too radical for the competition jury. But when conductor Paavo Berglund shared his knowledge of acoustics in some of the best music halls and acoustic engineer Mauri Parjo set the requirements for wall surfaces, the Suomalainen brothers discovered that they could meet all the acoustic requirements by leaving the stone walls open in the church hall.

Temppeliaukio Church is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city; half a million people visit it annually. The stone embroidered church is located in the heart of Helsinki. Maintaining the original character of the square is a fundamental concept of the building. The unique choice of shape made it a favourite among professionals and admirers of architecture.

The church setting was designed by architects. Organ builder Veikko Virtanen produced the church organ, which has 43 stops and 3001 pipes.

There are no bells in the church; the recording of the bells, written by Taneli Kuusisto, is reproduced through the speakers on the outside wall.

Even before the church was fully completed, it appeared in the headlines when, on the night of 16 to 17 July 1968, a group of Christian students wrote in capital letters "BIAFRA" in several places on the outer walls of the building to draw attention to the then famine in Biafra, which declared independence from Nigeria in 1967. The argument of the students, who were then part of the student revolutionary movement in the 60s, was that the money spent on a new luxury church could have been better spent to help Biafra. and elsewhere in Africa.

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