Polytechnic Students' Union

The Polytechnic Students' Union or Sampo Building is a National Romantic building at Lönnrotinkatu 29 in central Helsinki, designed in 1903 by Karl Lindahl and Walter Thomé. It has since become a hotel and is often called the Vanha Poli (old poly).

Polytechnic Students' Union soon after completion


In 1901, after two competitions, Lindahl and Thomé won the commission to design a student union for the Helsinki Polytechnic Institute;[1] it was their first major commission.[2] They named the building after the mysterious machine in Kalevala, the Sampo, and designed the whole building in National Romantic style, including the wall friezes.[3] The exterior walls are squared rubble granite (changed from rendered stone in the original design)[4] with a round tower, and the façade used forms derived from Karelian gables and medieval house-fronts, and originally complemented the low wooden buildings on either side.[1] The combination of natural stone and medieval features in the design was common in National Romantic buildings at the time.[5][6]

The interior was multi-functional, including fraternity rooms, a restaurant, and a meeting hall two storeys high and measuring 17.5 by 13.1 metres (57 ft × 43 ft), as well as ground-floor shops. A functional mixture of medieval and modern motifs includes log walls and heavy wood columns in the main hall, pillars built from rocks elsewhere in the building, abstract ceiling decoration and woodpecker corbels.[1][2] The original furniture was designed by Count Louis Sparre.[7]


In the 1990s an extension with an interior courtyard was added, and the building became a hotel. It is now known as the Vanha Poli (Old Poly).[8][9]


  1. ^ a b c Jonathan Moorhouse, Michael Carapetian and Leena Ahtola-Moorhouse, Helsinki Jugendstil Architecture, 1895–1915, Helsinki: Otava, 1987, ISBN 9789511083825, pp. 164–65.
  2. ^ a b John Howard, Art Nouveau: International and National Styles in Europe, Critical introductions to art, Manchester/New York: Manchester University Press, 1996, ISBN 9780719041600, p. 181.
  3. ^ George C. Schoolfield, Helsinki of the Czars: Finland's Capital, 1808–1918, Studies in Scandinavian literature and culture, Columbia, South Carolina: Camden House, 1996, ISBN 9781571130266, p. 246.
  4. ^ Das Licht kommt jetzt von Norden: Jugendstil in Finnland, ed. Ingeborg Becker and Sigrid Melchior, tr. Michael Loughridge, exhibition catalogue, Berlin: Bröhan Museum, [2002], ISBN 9783980789417, p. 66.
  5. ^ Innovation versus Tradition: The Architect Lars Sonck: Works and Projects 1900–1910, tr. Jüri Kokkonen, Suomen Muinaismuistoyhdistyksen aikakauskirja 96, Helsinki: [Suomen Muinaismuistoyhdistys], 1991, ISBN 9789519056999, p. 56.
  6. ^ Fabienne Chevallier, L'œuvre d'Eliel Saarinen en Finlande et la question de l'architecture nationale de 1898 à 1909, Histoire de l'art 12, Paris: Sorbonne, 2001, ISBN 9782859444235, (in French), p. 37.
  7. ^ Dekorative Kunst 11 / Die Kunst 8: Angewandte Kunst (1903) pp. 136, 152, (in German).
  8. ^ "Thomé, Valter", Uppslagsverket Finland, (in Swedish), retrieved 31 May 2016.
  9. ^ "Vanhalle Polille taidehotelli", Ilta-Sanomat, 3 February 2012, (in Finnish).

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 60°9′51.44″N 24°55′56.14″E / 60.1642889°N 24.9322611°E / 60.1642889; 24.9322611