Helsinki City Hall. Photo: Kimmo Brandt

“Stone Zoo” turns 50 – Helsinki City Hall’s anniversary celebrations begin

The Helsinki City Hall celebrates the 50th anniversary of the building’s renovation designed by architect Aarno Ruusuvuori. The celebrations take place during the autumn of 2020. The anniversary of this major Helsinki landmark is observed by opening the history, architecture, operations and meaning of the building to all citizens of Helsinki.

Ruusuvuori won a 1960s competition for the renovation of the City Hall block with his entry Stone Zoo. The name of the entry is most likely based on the city centre blocks named after animal species. A comprehensive renovation of the City Hall interior was completed in the autumn of 1970. The only features of the original building designed by architect Carl Ludvig Engel as Hotel Seurahuone that remained in the renovated interior were the Banquet Hall, the entrance colonnade and the façade.

Today’s powder blue colour of the City Hall exterior was chosen by visual artist Anitra Lucander.  She collaborated with Ruusuvuori on the City Hall redesign project by designing the entire colour scheme of the building: the colours of the exterior, interior and furniture. Lucander’s design featuring strong colours invigorates the plain white surfaces of the building. Nevertheless, her use of colours is subtle and pays careful attention to space. The colours reflect the Lucander-designed colour schemes of other buildings in the Empire-style city centre. The City Hall colour design, which incorporates more than thirty colours, is vivacious and highly detailed: the carpeting, bathroom tiles, laminated interior surfaces, furniture, even the number tags in the cloakroom all have their own colour.

To celebrate the City Hall anniversary, six colours were picked from Lucander’s extensive range of colours for the visual image of the anniversary.

The 50th anniversary of the City Hall is celebrated with an anniversary website, which takes visitors on video tours guided by experts. The nine tours of the website explore the art, architecture and inner workings of the building. The tours take visitors to places normally not open to the public. 

Public events related to the anniversary, such as guided tours of the City Hall and other programmes, will be organized as possible in 2021.

See the City Hall’s 50th anniversary website at

Photo: Kimmo Brandt.