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Proposal to enter Alvar Aalto's architecture on the UNESCO World Heritage tentative list

Ministry of Education and Culture
Publication date 1.2.2021 11.23
Press release
Paimio Sanatorium.
Paimio Sanatorium. Photo Welin, P. O. / Finnish Heritage Agency

Finland proposes listing a set of 13 sites representing Alvar Aalto’s humane architecture as a cultural heritage site on the tentative list of UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The holy place of worship of Ukonsaari by the Saami people in Inari will remain on the list of sites on the national tentative list.

Decisions on the sites to be included on the tentative list are made nationally. The decision is made by the Ministry of Education and Culture in the case of cultural heritage sites and by the Ministry of the Environment in the case of natural heritage sites. Decisions made by the Ministry of Education and Culture are based on a proposal prepared by the Finnish Heritage Agency. The national tentative list was last updated in 2004.

"The national tentative list is a fine set of sites complementing our existing group of world heritage sites and it is in line with the policies of the national world heritage strategy. The sites on the tentative list represent our national cultural heritage in a magnificent way, and we can be globally proud of such a heritage, too," said Annika Saarikko, Minister of Science and Culture.

The other cultural heritage sites on the current national tentative list no longer fully meet the criteria of the World Heritage Convention and the guidelines for a representative, balanced and credible World Heritage List, which is why they will be removed from the tentative list. These include rock carvings from historic time at the island of Gaddtarmen (Hauensuoli), a large Stone Age ruin of Kastelli at Pattijoki, rock paintings of Astuvansalmi at Ristiina, and Paimio Hospital (formerly Paimio Sanatorium), which will be removed from the list as a separate site but is one of the set of 13 sites on the Alvar Aalto humane architecture list.

The Ministry of the Environment is responsible for updating natural heritage sites on to the list in cooperation with the National Parks Finland services of Metsähallitus. The Ministry of the Environment has proposed including the archipelago habitats of the Saimaa ringed seal on the national tentative list, replacing the Saimaa-Pielinen lake system included on the current list.

Set of 13 sites representing Alvar Aalto's humane architecture

The set of sites on the tentative list consists of 13 sites designed by Alvar Aalto: Alvar Aalto’s Studio Aalto, Aalto House, Finlandia Hall, main building of the Social Insurance Institution and Helsinki Hall of Culture (Kulttuuritalo), Jyväskylä University Campus, Muuratsalo Experimental House and Säynätsalo Town Hall in Jyväskylä, Paimio Hospital (formerly Paimio Sanatorium), Seinäjoki Administrative and Cultural Centre, Sunila Sulphate Pulp Mill and Residential Area in Kotka, Villa Mairea in Pori, and the Church of the Three Crosses (Vuoksenniska Church) in Imatra.

The number of sites in the set of sites may still change when preparations start for submitting the site on the tentative list for inscription to the World Heritage List. A date for the preparation will be decided separately.

World Heritage Convention and Tentative List

The World Heritage Convention (UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage) was adopted in 1972. Finland acceded to the Convention in 1987. The aim of the World Heritage Convention is to identify and protect the world's natural and cultural heritage considered to be of outstanding universal value.

The World Heritage Convention includes a World Heritage List, which currently contains 1,121 sites. Seven sites in Finland have been inscribed on the list: Old Rauma (1991), Fortress of Suomenlinna (1991), Petäjävesi Old Church (1994), Verla Groundwood and Board Mill (1996), Bronze Age Burial Site of Sammallahdenmäki (1999), Struve Geodetic Arc (2005) and High Coast / Kvarken Archipelago (2006, natural heritage site).

National inventories, also known as tentative lists, are kept on sites that States Parties nominate for inscription to the actual World Heritage List. The national tentative list includes sites that are expected to meet the Convention’s selection criteria and ones that are intended to be submitted for inscription as World Heritage Sites in the next few years. The national tentative list has usually been updated roughly once a decade.


Mirva Mattila, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Education and Culture, tel. +358 295 330 269

Päivi Salonen, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Education and Culture, tel. +358 295 330 281

Read more:

Saimaa ringed seal habitats proposed to UNESCO World Heritage tentative list (press release 11 Nov. 2020)