Granö Centre (Villa Tammekann)

Homesite of Granö Centre

The Granö Centre of the Universities of Turku and Tartu Promotes Finnish-Estonian Cultural Exchange.

In 1998, the Turku University Foundation purchased a house in Tartu, designed by architect Alvar Aalto and restored following Alvar Aalto’s original plans as closely as possible.

The restoration work was completed in the year 2000 and the building has, since then, functioned as a cooperative centre for the Universities of Turku and Tartu. The conference rooms, accommodation and sauna facilities of the Granö Centre serve as an excellent setting for meetings.

The Ministry of Education has entrusted the University of Turku with the task of developing cooperation between the universities in the Baltic Sea Region. Ties between the Universities of Turku and Tartu reach back to the time of their establishment.

In 1987, the two universities signed an official agreement for cooperation. Through the activities of the Granö Centre, the Turku University Foundation wishes to promote significant cultural exchange between Estonia and Finland.

Europa Nostra Medal Awarded for the Granö Centre

The highly valued Europa Nostra Medal has been awarded to the Villa Tammekann in Estonia, a house designed by architect Alvar Aalto and owned by the the Turku University Foundation.

The medal is the most prestigious of the Europa Nostra Awards. It is also the first Europa Nostra recognition given to a building in Estonia. The Villa Tammekann is the only building by Alvar Aalto located in the Baltic countries. The official award ceremonies take place in Copenhagen on Saturday, March 23, 2002.

The Europe Nostra is an organization for the protection of cultural traditions and cultural heritage. It is also intended to provide a forum for debate on the preservation of cultural heritage and to take initiatives in furthering cultural traditions. The organization has active relationships with the European Union, the Council of Europe as well as UNESCO. The Europe Nostra gives out various awards and grants each year.

The Europa Nostra Heritage Medal awarded to the University of Turku’s base in Tartu, the Villa Tammekann, owned by the Turku University Foundation is the most prestigious of these annually awarded acknowledgements. This year the medal was awarded to five other projects in addition to the Villa Tammekann. The Medal was awarded for “the exemplary and carefully planned successful rehabilitation of an early villa by the young architect Alvar Aalto to its originally intended design.”

– This is a tribute to the Turku University Foundation’s ambitious work in the field of cultural values. It encourages the Foundation to continue its efforts in the preservation of cultural heritage and in supporting efforts by the University of Turku in advancing Estonian-Finnish relations, said the chairman of the Villa Tammekann Building Committee, architect Benito Casagrande on hearing of the award.

Tapani Mustonen, the architect in charge of the restoration work, describes the receiving of the award as unique.

– We are truly satisfied that this valuable project has been recognized. It is also a great tribute to Finnish architecture and especially to Alvar Aalto’s early work, says Mustonen of the award.

After the formal award ceremonies, a celebration dinner for the recipients will be held at the Christiansborg Castle, hosted by Europa Nostra’s President, HRH Prince Henrik of Denmark accompanied by HM Queen Margrethe II.

Villa Tammekann – The Home of Two Universities

Villa Tammekann, one of the architecturally significant houses listed by the Iconic Houses Network, was originally designed as a private home by Alvar Aalto. Now, it serves as a joint centreof the University of Turku, Finland and the University of Tartu, Estonia.

ICONIC HOUSES is an international network connecting architecturally significant houses from the 20th century that are open to the public as house museum. The platform also focuses on conservation, management, policy and cooperation.

Villa Tammekann is owned by the Turku University Foundation and it is located in an idyllic garden district of Tartu, Estonia. A shared Granö centre of the University of Turku and the University of Tartu operates in the facilities.

Alvar Aalto, a celebrated Finnish architect, designed the house as a residence for Professor August Tammekann and his family in 1932. The style of Villa Tammekann, like Aalto’s other designs, has been influenced by austere Central European modernism.

– Villa Tammekann has been completely restored following Aalto’s original design. The renovation was completed in 2000, tells CEO of the Turku University Foundation, Pekka Kanervisto.

The Centre of Science and Culture

Villa Tammekann serves primarily as a base for cooperation between the University of Turku and the University of Tartu. Its facilities can be used by the staff and students of both universities for work and study purposes.

– The centre has facilities for accommodation, seminars and recreation. Meetings, conferences and gatherings are hosted in the beautiful settings. Visitors can also relax in the sauna, says Kanervisto.

The Granö centre of the foundation and the two universities has been named  after the former Rector of the University of Turku and Professor of geography of the University of Tartu J. G. Granö, , who contributed greatly to the promotion of Finnish-Estonian university cooperation.

Vigorous collaboration has been continued in his spirit.

A good example is the Granö visiting lecture series, which has been going on for nearly ten years. The experts of the University of Turku visit the twin city and tell the public about the latest research results and their operations in Villa Tammekann. Granö lectures are organised by the Finnish Institute, Estonia.

Furthermore , the centre is ideal for researchers who need some peace and quiet. In the serene and pleasant atmosphere, many books have been written and publications completed. The Turku University Foundation grants several scholarships annually for this purpose.

– The Turku University Foundation grants Granö scholarships, which enable staying and working in an inspiring environment, for the researchers and teachers of the University of Turku, tells Kanervisto.