Seinäjoki Municipal Theatre

Renovation of Aalto Centre’s theater building

Project description:

The last missing building of the Seinäjoki Administrative and Cultural Centre designed by Alvar Aalto, Seinäjoki City Theatre, was carried out under Elissa Aalto, and was completed in 1987. The plan was based on earlier drafts, which Alvar Aalto had been involved in. The whole Aalto Centre is subject to protection listing under the Building Protection Act, which specifically mentions the lobby area, theatre hall, foyer, staircase and upper foyer, which can only be subject to restorative changes. A renewal of the performance technology of the Seinäjoki City Theatre was carried out during the summer breaks of the theatre in 2018–2019. During this renewal, other renovation needs were evident, the first of which was the change of the restaurant’s kitchen facilities from original cafeteria use to restaurant use during the summer of 2018. Work continued on the terms of stage technology on the small (Elissa) and large (Alvar) stage, as well as in other facilities. 

The theatre was quite a young building to be renovated. The needs for conversion and renovation were the result of changed working practices, advanced technology and the goal of using facilities more variedly for outside activities such as seminars and events. The changes to spaces were mainly targeted at staff workspaces: new workspaces for sound, light and video designers were created at the former costume shop. The old high-ceilinged scene shop was partly diveded onto two levels: a workshop and facilities for stage managers and costume maintenance. The common bathroom and toilet facilities that passed through the actors’ locker rooms were divided into locker – room-specific bathrooms. The hairsalon was moved and expanded, the facilities of the wardrobe department and costume maintenance were also improved and expanded, and a printing room was separated into the office wing. To facilitate work, a small laundry lift was added between floors. In the main premises, restaurant, lobby, foyer and grandstand, the changes were restorative and could mostly be achieved by refurnishing. The functionality of the premises was improved by subtle measures and the introduction of original clarity. The quality of the public’s toilets was improved by renewing the partition walls and repairing the original marble sinks. In the place of the old worn-out sinks, well-preserved sinks were found by the developer at a demolition site. The building’s well-preserved fixtures and furnishings, lamps, as well as the main part of the materials were preserved. New fixtures and materials followed the original style of material and details. Handles and spare parts for new and renovated pieces of furniture were utilized from the dismantled furnishings.  

As structural modifications, the base floors were compacted and the floor surface materials were replaced by diffusion open products. Waterproofing structures in the wet rooms’ floors were repaired. In addition to the renewal of theatrel technology, the HPV-technology was partially renewed and heat recovery was planned for the building. Indoor fiber dust was eliminated by replacing mineral wool products with allergy-safe polyester fibre boards. Loose mineral wool plates were encapsulated. Acoustics and muffling were improved with instructions from the acoustic engineer. A fire engineering plan was also designed. The accessibility of the building as well as bicycle parking was also improved. In the future, there are plans to repair the structure and eaves of the roof and clean the clinker tiles on the façade, as well as their seams. The immediate surroundings of the building and the outdoor lighting will be improved during the renovation of the civic square (“Kansalaistori”). 

Project info:

Building permission granted:3/2020
Client:City of Seinäjoki
Location:Aalto Centre, Seinäjoki
Size:6 020 m2
Protection status:Protected by the Building Protection Act (in 2005) and planning notation srs-1
Original construction date:1987
Original architects:Elissa and Alvar Aalto
Principal designer:Minna Lukander
Project architect:Mira Kyllönen
Other team members:Jukka Sulonen, Ella Müller, Eilo Hatakka, Jussi Laine, Emilia Nystén 
Photos:Anders Portman, Kuvatoimisto Kuvio Oy