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Henrik Gabriel Porthan

Born 8 November, 1739, Viitasaari. Died 16 March, 1804, Turku.

Master of Philosophy 1760, Royal Academy of Turku

Docent of Rhetoric (Latin), 1762
Library Amanuensis,1764
Acting Professor, 1776, and full Professor of Rhetoric and Verse (Roman Verse), 1777–1804
Rector, 1786–87 and 1798–99, Royal Academy of Turku

Knight of the Nordstjärneorden (Swedish Order of the Polar Star), 1799
Kanslianeuvos (honorary title given to senior civil servants), 1802

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Written by Lauri Lönnström
Translated by John Calton

Porthania - a pearl of modernist architecture

Henrik Gabriel Porthan also gave his name to one of the main buildings of the University of Helsinki – Porthania. It was designed by Aarne Ervi, who started his career as an assistant to Alvar Aalto. The building was completed in 1957 to ease the University’s chronic shortage of space which had arisen due to the swelling ranks of upper secondary schoolchildren and the post-war baby boom.

Porthania initially offered facilities for the entire University, whereas today it is almost entirely devoted to the Faculty of Law. Porthania was envisioned to be the comprehensive university premises, including lecture halls, studies, a cafeteria, an exercise hall and, on the top floor, an atelier for budding artists. In this way students could take care of their physical and mental well-being under one roof.

Porthania is the first notable building in Finland to make use of prestressed concrete elements. It has been selected as a landmark of Finnish modernist architecture by Docomomo, an international organisation for the documentation and conservation of modernist architecture.

Photo: Mika Federley.​
Photo: Mika Federley.​


Photo: Mika Federley.​
Photo: Mika Federley.​

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