Lahti City Hall


Renovation and Extension


City of Lahti



Size br-m²


In 1910, the City of Lahti organized a design competition for the city hall, which was won by Eliel Saarinen. The building was completed in 1912. The city hall acquired its current form in 1934 when it was expanded with a south wing designed by the city architect, Kaarlo Könönen. At the same time, attic spaces were converted into office spaces and technical facilities were built under the courtyard. Since then, the interior of the building has undergone numerous changes over its hundred-year history.

The Lahti City Hall continues to serve as an administrative building, hence there were no major conflicts between its use and history. The project’s conservation process defined three separate levels of protection for the interiors:

  • Spaces to be protected and restored 
  • Spaces to be retained in their original form 
  • Spaces to be modernized

The exterior, including its architectural details, is entirely protected.

The “red thread” of interior conservation comprised the aforementioned three categories of protection. Additionally, the project implemented conservation goals from two different eras: the first being the original form and architecture given by Eliel Saarinen, and the second the significant part of the 1980s renovation, the interior design by Antti Nurmesniemi.

Respecting the building’s historical periods, spaces from both 1912 and 1985 were restored, including the original furniture and lighting. In the technical renovation project, the building services were completely renewed, and spatial solutions were modified to meet current needs. Damages to the facades were repaired, deteriorated mortar joints and masonry were renewed, and windows were refurbished. The courtyard was transformed into a warm gathering space for city residents by covering it.

Requirements for sustainable development, health, and safety often lead to substantial construction measures, even in protected sites. In our northern conditions, the requirements for heating, cooling, and ventilation are high. The city hall’s technology was at the end of its lifecycle. All technical systems had to be renewed, which is one of the most challenging tasks in planning, especially for a protected building.