Resurrecting Elegance: Kouvola's Theatrical Renaissance Unveiled

Eero A Kajava
Eero A KajavaImage Source: Architects Journal


Haworth Tompkins and ARCO triumph in reconstructing a theatre in Kouvola, Finland, preserving the 1950s community edifice and sports hall by Eero A Kajava. The revitalized structures, envisioned as offices and workshops, harmonize with a reconstructed 1960s theatre boasting a 400-seat auditorium. The project's sustainable and contemporary ethos garnered praise for preserving Kouvolan's architectural essence.


In a triumphant collaboration, UK architect Haworth Tompkins and Finnish studio ARCO emerge victorious in a competition to rejuvenate Kouvola's theatre landscape in southeastern Finland. The ambitious plan retains the 1950s community education building and sports hall, crafted by local luminary Eero A Kajava. The architectural duo envisions repurposing these structures into dynamic spaces such as offices, dressing rooms, and workshops.

Central to the project is the resurrection of the adjacent 1960s theatre, set to be reborn with a resplendent 400-seat auditorium. The judges lauded the project for its sustainable and contemporary design, applauding the preservation of Kouvolan's distinctive identity within the architectural evolution.

Roger Watts, Director at Haworth Tompkins, expresses delight at being chosen alongside ARCO for the redevelopment of Kouvola Theatre. Watts elucidates, "Our design aims to draw on the architectural and cultural memory of the buildings while radically transforming the production spaces and stages and opening up the foyer to the city."

The architects' vision transcends mere renovation, encapsulating a holistic transformation that pays homage to the city's architectural legacy. Retaining the essence of the original structures, the revitalized edifices will not merely stand as a testament to architectural prowess but will also serve as functional hubs for creativity and artistic endeavors.

As the plan unfolds, the architectural narrative unfolds a tale of preservation and progress, where the old and the new coalesce seamlessly to redefine Kouvola's cultural landscape. The integration of modern functionality within the historic fabric ensures a delicate balance between tradition and innovation.


The successful venture of Haworth Tompkins and ARCO in winning the competition to revamp Kouvola Theatre stands as a beacon of architectural ingenuity. Balancing preservation with innovation, the project signifies not just a physical reconstruction but a cultural and artistic renaissance. As the curtains rise on Kouvola's renewed theatre district, it unveils a harmonious symphony of architectural legacy and contemporary vision.

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