History and architecture
The decision to construct the Espoo Cultural Centre was made in the City Council’s session on
1 January 1972, when Espoo acquired the status of a city. The first room programme was
completed in 1974, an architectural competition was announced in 1979 and its results in 1980.
With some 60 entries participating, Kuunsilta (Moon glade) by architect Arto Sipinen was selected
the winner. Construction started in 1986; with the foundation stone laid on the birthday of Jean
Sibelius on 8 December. The building was completed in January 1989. Near the Tapiola Central
Basin, the Cultural Centre is built on a plot donated by the Asuntosäätiö Foundation at a location
where Professor Aarne Ervi, in his plan for the Tapiola centre in 1954, situated a theatre building.
The Cultural Centre was developed into a multi-purpose building comprising the concert hall
(Tapiola Hall), theatre hall (Louhi Hall), gallery, Tapiola Library, Espoo Music Institute, Tapiola
Citizen's Office and Tapiola facilities of the Espoo Adult Education Centre. The Cultural Centre
was the first major cultural investment made by the City of Espoo; the construction costs totalled
about €22 million, with the furniture and equipment costs at some €2.5 million.
In the late 1950s, Arto Sipinen worked at Alvar Aalto’s office, and Kuunsilta carries on Aalto’s
monumental building tradition. The back of the building is located on the Kulttuuriaukio Square
side, with the lap opening to the Central Basin. The white shade links the construction to the
other buildings of the Tapiola centre, and it was proportioned to the adjacent large masses of the
Central Tower. The elevated section of the building features the public premises – halls, service
facilities, gallery and foyers –, the lower southern wing housing the library, Music Institute,
Adult Education Centre and the administrative facilities of the Cultural Centre and City Orchestra.
The materials used in the exterior walls include brushed white quartzite sandstone bricks,
travertine tiles and glass. The interior facilities are made of birch, travertine and terrazzo concrete.
The structural design of the foyers is unique in the world: the supporting columns are situated
outside the building and are attached to the building with the help of beams. The glass panes
in the foyers are three-layered. The distance to ground level from the lower surface of the moon
gazing pavilion on the third floor, missing its fourth column, is 14 m (the total length of the
column being 21 m). The gross area of the building is 12,900 m2, with a capacity of 68,700 m3.
Arto Sipinen (1936-2017)
Over the past decades, architect Arto Sipinen has won over 40 awards and redemptions in
architectural competitions, nearly 20 of which are first prizes. Most of his wins are from
designing public buildings. Sipinen’s entry was awarded in the design competition held for
central Helsinki in 1986. His works include an extension building in the area of the University
of Jyväskylä, Imatra City Hall, Imatra Cultural Centre, Mikaeli Concert and Congress Hall in
Mikkeli, Lahti Adult Institute and main library as well as Kuusamo Hall Culture and Congress
Centre. Arto Sipinen has been awarded the honorary title of Professor.