Sibelius Hall

History & architecture


Sibelius Hall was completed in 2000, set around the birthplace of Lahti's industrial history, where the merchants Carl J Unonius and Knut Hj Cassel started a steam sawmill in 1869. The timber from the Lake Päijänne area was transported to Lahti for processing and was further transported by rail to the rest of the world. Factory operations in the harbour area ceased in the 1980s and thereafter efforts for the current harbour marketplace began.  

  • Sibelius Hall opened on 9th March 2000


The impressive wooden concert- and congress centre rose on the Vesijärvi waterfront in spring 2000. Its architects, Hannu Tikka and Kimmo Lintula, explained that the main source of inspiration in the design was the Finnish forests. The forest had always provided our ancestors with nourishment and raw materials, but it also involves mythical memories and scents – it has a relaxing essence. Another natural starting point in the design came from the industrial history of the site, the uncomplicated aesthetics of the old brick buildings, and the vicinity of water.

Operators in the Finnish forest and wood sector supported the Sibeliustalo project, and it was selected as the main initiative for the Puun vuosi 1996 / Puun aika (‘The Year of Wood 1996 / Time of Wood’) campaign, which aimed at finding innovative wooden construction solutions. During its construction, the house was considered the flagship of wooden construction, which, when completed, was the biggest public wooden building built in Finland for over a hundred years. The Sibelius Hall complex, an area of nearly 90,000 m3, is composed of four elements: the renovated Carpenter’s Factory, the Main Hall building, Forest Hall (linking the previous elements together), and the Congress Wing (which is connected to the complex via a glass passage). Wood is the supporting material in all the new sections.

  • Arkkitehtityöhuone Artto Palo Rossi Tikka Oy, designers Hannu Tikka and Kimmo Lintula
  • Interior design Arkkitehtityöhuone Artto Palo Rossi Tikka Oy, designer Markku Liukkonen
  • Acoustic design Artec Consultants Inc, New York, designer Russel Johnson


US-based Artec Consultants, Inc. was in charge of the acoustic design. The ‘shoebox’ shape of the hall and the oval shape of the auditorium and stage provide optimal acoustics. The acoustic characteristics are further improved through the careful selection of furniture and materials. The acoustics can be adjusted with a canopy and the acoustic doors and banners on the side walls of the hall.

The Main Hall is an acoustic miracle, which creates unforgettable musical memories for concert goers. The auditorium seating and stage are situated in an oval-shaped ‘shoebox’ hall. The adjustable acoustics are formed by a vertically movable canopy which is on top of the stage in order to achieve the maximum acoustic flexibility; the acoustics are also reinforced by 188 acoustic doors located on the sides of the hall that open to form an echo chamber, complemented by 2.7 Km of woolen curtains. The corrugated walls were designed to break up reflected sounds. A place was reserved for an organ behind the loft above the stage. The organ was finished and put in place in 2007. 
The sophisticated colouring of the Main Hall is a combination of graphite-grey, natural white, and the warm red of old string instruments. The floor is oil- and heat-treated smoke birch parquet. A glass façade covers the massive wall elements, with sandwich-structured laminated veneer lumber panels, filled with sand (18 cm thick insulation) and mineral wool. All of the Main Hall’s load bearing structures are made of glulam timber.

The star chart of Forest Hall

The star chart of Forest Hall

As you stand in the middle of Forest Hall and look up, you see a star chart, a night sky, depicting the constellations as they appeared at the moment of Jean Sibelius’s birth on the 8th of December 1865. The supporting structure of the hall consists of nine pinewood pylons with criss-crossing branches of beams, which were turned on Finland's largest lathe, at Köyhänperä in Reisjärvi. The ceiling is supported by glulam grilles produced by Vierumäen Teollisuus Oy.

Art in the building

Art in the building

Over 30 pieces by sculptor, Professor Mauno Hartman, have been placed all over Sibelius Hall: wooden sculptures, reliefs, paintings and collages. Hartman is known for his large timber installations which have been acclaimed as the architecture of the recollections of the Finnish rustic milieu. 

A relief by Satu Loukola depicting conductor Osmo Vänskä is placed on the wall of Forest Hall. 

Textile design by Suvi Alantela can be seen in the rooms of the Congress Wing