"Our motto is that Tampere Hall accommodates your wishes," says Kaarina Suonio. She directs the Nordic region's biggest congress and concert centre, which celebrates its tenth anniversary in 2000. Its creators Sakari Aartelo and Esa Piironen designed the building, which continues the best traditions of Finnish architecture, to suit different uses as flexibly as possible. The facade cladding is ceramic slabs and grey granite. The building contains a total of 2,270 sq. metres of floor space and has an internal volume of 174,500 cu. metres.
The building stands in a delightful setting opposite the main building of the University, right beside a park and a pond and just a short walk from the city centre. Its architecture and the works of art that belong to the totality have made the building a tourist attraction in its own right. The dominant work is Kimmo Kaivanto's 200-metres-long concrete sculpture Blue Line, which runs from the entrance lobby to the outside wall.
The building is the centre of musical life in Tampere and the home of both the Tampere Philharmonic and the Opera. The large hall with its superb acoustics has been attracting mega-stars since it opened: Daniel Barenboim, Isaac Stern, Yehudi Menuhin, Matti Salminen, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Esa-Pekka Salonen, the King's Singers, Karita Mattila. Probably the best-known orchestra that has visited is the Berlin Philharmonic. One of the high spots on the programme for 2000 is Verdi's opera Simon Boccanegra starring Jorma Hynninen and Jaakko Ryhänen. 1999 ended with Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite performed by the ballet company of the National Theatre in Prague.
Tampere Hall has been the venue for scores of international congresses, with anything from twenty to two thousand delegates. The biggest challenge to date will come in 2004, when the 10th International Congress of Toxicology attracts 2,500 participants. There was a lot of competition to land this conference and Tampere Hall beat Montreal and Sao Paolo in the final round.
The building has good wheelchair-accessibility, with ramps and automatic doors. More attention has likewise been paid to environmental questions than in most other European congress centres. In fact, Tampere Hall received an award for its pioneering work in this field at the European Incentive & Business Travel & Meetings Exhibition in 1994.
A distinctive feature of the hall is its own programme office, which comparable establishments lack. In this respect, Director Kaarina Suonio emphasises the image-creating importance of events that take place in a magnificent setting. She has special praise for her staff, who create a good feeling throughout the building, starting with the receptionist who greets visitors at the door.