Uno Ullberg

Uno Ullberg (born 1879 in Viipuri, died 1944 in Helsinki) was a famous Finnish architect. Was the first to introduce to Viipuri the important international tendency in architecture known as Functionalism. Though authors most notable buildings were constructed in Viipuri, he became famous not only in his native town but nation-wide.

Education and early works

Ullberg graduated from the architectural faculty in Helsinki Polytechnic Stadia. After returning in 1906 to the native town he joined his co-ed Klaes Axel Gulden for the purpose of setting-up their own architectural bureau.

They worked together until 1909, when Ullberg decided to quit and to start working under his own name. The most important work created in collaboration with Gulden was the headquarters of "Hackman & Co" in Viipuri, 1909], Piispankatu 14.

The building represents the compositional and formal variations of Art Nouveau or national Romanticism. The main elevation pediments, openings, window frames, portals, the granite facing are quite common to the typical manner of Romanticism. The interiors of the building were among the most stylish and rich in the city. The inside of the house survived harmful transformations during the Soviet period so the interior decorations were greatly damaged. After leaving the collaboration with Gulden Uno Ullberg continued the work alone. Between 1910–1930 he created a large number of public buildings situated not only in Viipuri but in some other important locations around the town.

Among them are several office buildings in Priozersk (former Käkisalmi), Imatra and other Finnish towns. The early works in Viipuri could be described as the traditional town architecture with the classicistic influence. The most interesting instances of the period are reconstruction of 1900-built "Union bank", the "Karjala" offices, 1929, the trade-house and residence of V. Dippel, 1921 and one of the most famous works - reconstruction of the famous medieval Round Tower in the middle of the old city centre. Ullberg converted the massive old building into a comfortable cafe.

The most important period in Ullberg's life is connected with the period known as the White Era.

The White Era

"White era of Functionalism". The name is associated with the most popular painting color - white - used for the elevations of stuccoed functionalistic buildings of 1920–1930-s.

Ullberg found his own unique conception and interpretation of functionalistic architecture. The main aspect of his philosophy is connection between functional and traditional. In his works Ullberg always used the Classicist background: emphasized, reductive common elements of Classicism.

The most brilliant works of the era became Ullberg's reply to the serious social needs of the city. Among them are the Viipuri Art Museum and Drawing School (1930), the Viipuri Panttilaitos Oy Building (1931), the Viipuri Provincial Archives (1933), the Viipuri Hospital Maternity and Women's Wards (1937).

The most perfect and surprising is the Viipuri Art Museum and Drawing School house. Built in October 1930 the construction is situated on the reserved by Viipuri Art Society (1928) top of 16th Century Pantsarlahti Bastion in the southern end of the city. Contrasting from its fortress environment with stone-supported land walls, the white-stuccoed building commands the view over the South Harbor and the approach from the sea.

The massing of the building is of two wings (the Art Museum on the east wing, Drawing School on the west) placed at an angle with each other, with a wedge-shaped, paved courtyard separating the two. The wider part of the courtyard faces south-west, the harbor, and there is an imposing twin-row Classistic colonnade of pillars with a rectangular cross-section, supporting an equally stylistic curving architrave with half-oculi, doubling as a corridor that connects the two buildings.

The approach to the museum from the city is through a series of flights of steps leading to an opening, set at an angle, between the windowless north walls of the wings. The walls facing south are almost as austere, with the central colonnade acting as the focal point.

An old gunpowder storage cellar next to the museum approach was converted for the use of the Viipurin Taiteilijaseura artists' association.

The four-storey building of the Viipuri Panttilaitos Oy was the firt the first completed example of Functionalistic movement in the city. It has as many rows of distinct, very simplified bands of windows, or rather, more like four very wide windows with very thin mullions. The first floor fenestration consists of a double row of windows, 22 in a row (that are hinged from the bottom, opening downwards), while the upper three only have one. The bold fenestration is enabled by the use of a solid reinforced concrete girderless framework with "mushroom form" columns that free the brick facade of its load-bearing function. The cross-section of columns on the last stage is much smaller than on the first one, it's because of the increase of mechanical tension down from the roof the basement.

Ullberg was very successful in designing medical facilities. During the White Era he built a number of very important hospitals in Viipuri.

Ullberg worked not only with his own bureau, but also acted as the Viipuri city architect in 1932–1936. During this period he controlled the urban conception of the city and worked on the Master plan.

The last ages of life

In 1936 Ullberg moved to Helsinki where he became the head of the architectural bureau of the National Board of Health. This job was connected to his great experience in medical buildings theory and his practical achievements.

After the Winter War with Soviet Union when after the short period of being a soviet city in 1941 Viipuri was returned to Finland, Ullberg was fast to create the plan of reconstruction for his native town (1941). But Finland had no time and no possibility to bring the plan to life.

Ullberg died in Helsinki in 1944 in the age of 65.

Important buildings

External links

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