Architecture appreciation: Tennispalatsi

A white functionalist building with a circular roof section filled with windows.
Le Tennispalatsi (Helsinki) by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra, shared via CC BY 2.0 (image reduced in size)

Tennispalatsi is a cultural and recreational complex designed by Helge Lundström, nestled in the vibrant district of Kamppi in Helsinki, Finland. Inside, you’ll now find a multiplex cinema, the esteemed Helsinki City Art Museum, the Museum of Cultures, and charming boutique shops. But its origins were more sport-oriented.

Putting the tennis in Tennispalatsi

If you’re wondering why Tennispalatsi is called that, you have to go back to 1938 when the building was constructed. Lundström built the functionalist structure for the 1940 Summer Olympics and it housed four tennis courts. Tokyo were the original host of the games but forfeited their right, with Helsinki due to step in.

They wouldn’t get to host it in the end as the 1940 Games were cancelled due to World War II. However, Helskini got a second chance in 1952 and Tennispalatsi was used for some preliminary basketball games. Talk about multi-purpose!

Tennis related: A Spotify playlist of songs about tennis

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