The Embassy stands like a Finnish island adrift in the middle of India, permeated by an Indian spirit of place. It is a remarkable fusion of Indian and Finnish inspiration and material endeavour, of spirit and physical effort.
Architects Ms. Raili Pietilä and Mr. Reima Pietilä, a married couple, won a national competition for the Finnish Embassy in New Delhi in 1963. However, their plans were not implemented until the 1980’s; the Embassy was completed in the summer 1986. It was built by Indians, under Finnish supervision.
Awarding the first prize to the Pietiläs’ entry bearing the lyrical pseudonym “Snow speaks on the mountains”, the assessors complemented its esthetic uniqueness against mere rational excellence.
The Embassy’s design ideas focus on the roof shapes which create a sculptural site layout seen from the air. The architects thought back to the shapes of Lake Kitkajärvi in Northern Finland, where the ice age combed the rock into parallel furrows and hills, and where glaciers created lakes, serpentine peninsulas and islands. The irregularly cut roof eaves resemble the snow sculptures that are formed in the winter ice around the Gulf of Finland.
This is the very bond between Finland and India in the Embassy’s architecture. The “art of winter” works in a stunningly same way on Himalayan ridges as it does in Nordic latitudes.
Often said to be among the most beautiful ones in Delhi, the Embassy compound comprises the Ambassador’s residence (photo), the chancery, the staff apartments, and a Finnish sauna.
The interior of the residence was planned by Antti Nurmesniemi, and the large ceramic bas-relief in its hall by Rut Bryk. Maj-Lis Rosenbröijer was in charge of landscape and garden design.
The Finnish Embassy in New Delhi is one of the Pietiläs’ main projects, alongside works such as the President of Finland’s residence in Helsinki, and the City Library of Tampere.