History and architecture
The WeeGee Exhibition Centre is situated in Tapiola, Espoo, in the former Weilin&Göös printing house. Professor Aarno Ruusuvuori (1924–1992) designed the first two phases of the building. The starting point of design was the printing house production process, which required a large amount of free space. Wanting to connect the factory floor and its machinery seamlessly to the natural environment of Tapiola, Ruusuvuori achieved this by using large window surfaces. The entire northern façade of the building is made of glass.
The building was completed in three phases between 1964 and 1974. Construction of the first phase began in February 1963. March 1966 saw the beginning of the second construction phase, which took a year. The third phase, designed by Bertel Ekengren, was completed in 1974. This newest part today houses Etelä-Tapiola Upper Secondary School.
The Weilin&Göös printing press operations were relocated in 1992. The original plan included a fourth phase, which was never constructed. The City of Espoo bought the property in 2001, and the building’s conversion into a cultural space was completed in late 2005.
After extensive demolition and excavation work, the new building was constructed within the old frame. The precast concrete façades were revamped and dozens of new staircases and new lifts were built, along with more than 300 new rooms. A basement almost 100 metres in length was excavated under the building. The building’s architecture retained its exceptionally large dimensions, like the uniform façade whose length exceeds 100 metres.
Among the building’s most distinctive features are the eight large concrete pylons, which extend four metres above the roof and have radial tension rods. They support the second-floor roof. Three metres in diameter, the pylons contain a great variety of technical equipment related to humidity and temperature requirements.
The first floor of the WeeGee Exhibition Centre was opened to the public on 13 October 2006.
The total area of the building is 23,000 m2. The exhibition and cultural spaces in use total about 17,500 m2.
Details about WeeGee
- The street name Ahertajantie, which translates as ‘Hard Worker’s Street’, refers to the local business life and Tapiola’s first industrial area.
- The ‘wg’ logo above the main entrance is the original logo, designed by Juhani Pallasmaa.
- The renovation work respected the building’s past by leaving the concrete floor unchanged: for example, you can see the joint between the first and second construction phases in WeeGee’s floor near the entrance to the Finnish Museum of Horology.
- The upstairs printing room has also served as floorball courts.
- The Museum of Modern Art in New York City has a scale model of WeeGee, made by Professor Aarno Ruusuvuori in March 1967.