Our architecture

At Musiikkitalo, our walls speak softly to lend focus to what really matters here; the music. The architects have created a venue that is designed to encourage openness and the exchanging of ideas.

The architects

The international architectural design competition in 2000 was won by LPR Architects with their proposal titled A Mezza Voce. The title refers to a musical direction meaning “softly” or “quietly”. The LPR team was led by
Marko Kivistö, Mikko Pulkkinen and Ola Laiho, with around 30 other architects contributing to the design.

A mezza voce

In the architects’ vision, the new scheme was to foster a sense of place and visual cohesion for this central Helsinki site. The design engages in dialogue with the existing architecture around Töölönlahti Bay by dynamically aligning the main building mass with the nearby Finlandia Hall and Finnish parliament building.

The highest parts of the Musiikkitalo structure have been placed in close proximity to local green space, allowing the building to link into a broader visual continuum where the high-profile public buildings in this area appear as if enveloped by parkland. The rich green hues of the plain copper clad exterior facing Mannerheimintie and Töölönlahdenkatu resonate with both the surrounding green space and the historic building stock in nearby Etu-Töölö.

The glazed facades facing south and east connect Musiikkitalo with other more recent developments here. Although separated from Musiikkitalo by a thoroughfare, the parliament has been incorporated as part of the wider layout here, allowing sweeping views from the building’s iconic granite steps towards the parkland.

The green roof sloping southwards over the lower part of the building defers to the distinctive architecture of the Kiasma Museum of Modern Art building beyond.

The aim has been to create a building imbued with a sense of openness that will facilitate dialogue and interaction between the professional musicians, students and audiences that gather here. At the heart of the building is a vineyard-style concert hall, accessed through the circular foyer wrapping around it. The soundproof glass walls afford views of the crater-like interior from the foyer and lobby areas, which during daytime serve as a café and exhibition space.

In addition to the main concert hall, Musiikkitalo comprises a further five smaller auditoriums with seating for 140–400. The acoustics in each space have been designed with their particular use in mind.

The main concert hall stage, rehearsal rooms and loading area are found on the ground floor. The basement floors house green room facilities for both resident orchestras, with natural light provided by two lightwells. Administrative offices used by the orchestras and the team responsible for running the building are found in a separate section of the building, above the foyer.

Sibelius Academy classrooms and offices are spread over seven floors around the semi-enclosed courtyard overlooking Karamzin Park. The first two floors are home to the university’s recording studios and library, which is also open to members of the public.


As darkness falls and quiet sets in, the building site takes on a mystical quality. The city that surrounds it might still be awake, buzzing with life and energy, but here the calm feels like a sign, a promise of what’s to come. This will become a sanctuary, an oasis. During the day, this building site is busy, hectic, overwhelming even. Come the evening, the tools go down, the problems fall away, the noise settles. Even the inescapable fact of the project’s incompleteness hangs in suspended animation for now, making no demands of anyone. Musiikkitalo has a purpose. That purpose is to generate impulses, to generate energy. In physics an impulse is defined as the integral of force with respect to time. Derived from the Latin pulsus, it can also mean thrust and drive, a sudden force or a powerful desire to make something:

“These impulses must guide us towards endeavours that can make the good visible and bring it within our reach. Anything less would reduce goodness to an abstraction, a mere notion or fancy. It is the impulses that rise from deep within us that sustain their momentum for longer and seek other depths in turn.”

What we really need are dedicated people willing to surrender to the light that has been bestowed upon them. Because without them, that which is good and beautiful cannot be revealed to others, made relevant, rendered worthwhile. Much of this ability to inspire other people derives from the capacity these individuals have to convey, through their presence alone, that the pursuit of an endeavour can spark a light so powerful it lights up an entire room. And that endeavour then becomes something we’re drawn to and seek connection with. Because connection is what we all want. And in that same moment, these fascinating endeavours by these extraordinary people appear before us in the form of safe, stable, authentic spaces that sustain us as we venture out to seek new encounters.”

Marko Kivistö
Musiikkitalo lead architect

Marko Kivistö: Hiljainen huone – Musiikkitalon arkkitehdin muistikirjasta A quiet room – leaves from an architect’s notebook
Kirjapaja, Helsinki
Abridged quote from chapter titled Impulssi [Impulse].

About Musiikkitalo

Our history

Musiikkitalo is the result of a joint endeavour by the Sibelius Academy, the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra. First opened to the public in August 2011, the building enjoys a prime location in central Helsinki, opposite Eduskunta, the Finnish Parliament.

Our resident organisations

The resident organisations at Musiikkitalo are: the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and the University of the Arts Helsinki’s Sibelius Academy.

Musiikkitalo concert organ

January 2024 saw the unveiling of Musiikkitalo’s long-awaited new concert organ. The 124-stop organ has the distinction of being the largest modern concert hall organ in the world. It is also one of only two instruments of this kind that can also be considered works of art in their own right. The creation of the new organ was made possible through a significant donation from the composer Kaija Saariaho.

Visual art at Musiikkitalo

Alongside music and architecture, you will also be able to enjoy visual art as part of your visit. Reijo Hukkanen’s Song Trees and Kirsi Kaulanen’s Gaia are both bespoke commission for Musiikkitalo.

Back to top