School of Arts, Design and Architecture

Our history

In many ways, the story of our school is the story of the Finnish creative industries: design, arts, architecture, film and new media.
The Ateneum building, photo by Archive Collections, Finnish National Gallery

Like Aalto University itself, the School of Arts, Design and Architecture is a merger of distinct institutions of higher learning in Finland, each with its own tradition and history: the University of Art and Design Helsinki, known popularly in Finnish as TaiK, and the architecture faculty that was formerly part of the Helsinki University of Technology. Each department in the school has its own unique history. Read the history of the three universities that comprise Aalto University.

Before merging into Aalto, TaiK educated many of the household names of Finnish art, design and cinema. Many alumni, such as Tapio Wirkkala and Kaj Franck, are internationally recognised for their work. ELO, the Department of Film has trained several generations of Finnish directors, producers, cinematographers and screenwriters, including Pirjo Honkasalo, Juho Kuosmanen, Peter Flinkerberg, Riina Hyytiä and Riikka Pelo, to name but a few. The department of Architecture, while part of Helsinki University of Technology, was the alma mater of the preeminent names in modern Finnish architecture, most notably Signe Hornborg, Eliel Saarinen, Alvar Aalto, Viljo Revell, Reima Pietilä, Timo Penttilä and Juhani Pallasmaa.

A history of our school would not be complete without a brief history of the architecture and facilities where our students study. Our campus at Otaniemi is considered by some to be one of the finest ensembles of Finnish architecture in the world, as it has been planned and built by so many renowned architects. In 2018, this tradition moved into the future with the opening of our new building, Väre, which houses most of the state-of-the-art facilities and learning spaces of the School of Arts, Design and Architecture.

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