The Architecture of the Embassy Building

The Embassy building designed by Konstantin Bölau is in principle a simple white block whose laconic Doric architecture is emphasised by double columns on both sides of the entrance lying on the central axis. In this sense, the house contains a great deal of the Nordic neo-classicism of the 1920s, but the division of upright windows into two halves instead of into several small squares belongs to the functionalism of the 1930s. The vertical stretch of the main floor windows refers to the 18th century Parisian hotel particulier, that evergreen source of palace architecture.

The reception rooms were located on the main floor; after entering, the hall and the lounge were on the right hand side, the dinning room was in the middle and the Ambassador’s office was on the left. The rooms were predominantly furnished with 19th century neo-style furniture, obviously taken from the old building. Offices and apartments were on the upper floor.

In the 1930s, Helsinki’s architecture was one of the most progressive ones in the world, but it should be kept in mind that diplomatic architecture can never be avant-garde and that state representative functions always bring in historical styles. Therefore, we should not place the architecture of our Embassy building in the context of Helsinki functionalism, but in that of the other embassy buildings and in this context of modernised historicism the Estonian quality is impressive.

written by Mart Kalm