School of Arts, Design and Architecture in a nutshell

The School of Arts, Design and Architecture was founded in 1871 as Craft School. It has grown into one of the most international schools in Finland. The international school is the largest in its field in the Nordic countries and one of the most respected in the world. In its present form the school started operating in 2012.



1871 Craft school starts

1885 Name changed to Central School of Industrial Arts

1887 Moved to Ateneum

1949 Name changed to Institute of Industrial Arts

1965 Into state ownership

1973 Name changed to University of Industrial Art Helsinki UIAH

1983 Doctoral education in art begins

1986 Moved to Arabianranta

1990 Cumulus organisation is founded

1993 English name changed to University of Art and Design Helsinki

1994 Establishment of Media laboratory

2000 Media Centre Lume is opened

2003 Aralis library center is completed

2007 Decision to merge the University of Art and Design Helsinki, Helsinki University of Technology and Helsinki School of Economics into a new university, Aalto University.

2010 The Aalto University School of Art and Design starts its operation as part of the Aalto University

2012 The former Aalto University School of Art and Design and the Department of Architecture of the School of Engineering have merged to form Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture

From Ateneum to Arabianranta

The school got a nickname 'Atski', used in spoken language, from Ateneum, the noble building drawn by Theodor Höijer, located by the Rautatientori square. Ateneum served as the furnace of industrial art education for 100 years. Now the building hosts the Finnish National Gallery. The School of Art and Design moved to its current premises in the Arabia factory real estate in 1986, and after several decades, gathered all departments of the school under a common address. The Arabianranta project has created an internationally significant industrial art and media centre around the school.

Studies and research

Since the 1970s, the aim of education at the School of Art and Design has been to deepen students’ scientific and artistic competence, and to refine their innovative processing into professional practices. The original, traditional education in product and environmental design was gradually joined by strong training in visual communication, new media, film and television.

The school's swift internationalization has opened doors to partnerships with foreign institutions and businesses, and to international markets, for example, China and Japan. Media education, research and development, as well as multidisciplinary research schools are now integrated in the school's operations.

Since the 1990s, the establishment of multidisciplinary study programmess between different universities has been part of the renewal and expansion of education. IDBM, Polis, MEDES, HSCE and Visual Journalism have paved the way for the later, more extensive cooperation of the universities.

The degree system renewed in 1994 divided the basic degree into a lower and higher basic degree: a three-year degree of Bachelor of Art (BA), and a two-year degree of Master of Art (MA). Until the end of 1999, it was possible to get a Licentiate of Art degree. The current degree structure is internationally commensurate.

Since 1983, it has been possible to study for a degree of Doctor of Arts at the School of Art and Design. The first doctoral dissertations took place at the beginning of the 1990s. Today, eight to ten new Doctors of Arts graduate from the School of Arts, Design and Architecture every year.

Tomorrow's history

In 2005, the inaugural words of Aalto University were uttered. In 2010, the School of Art and Design, Helsinki School of Economics, and University of Technology started their operation as the Aalto University in the fields of art and design, economics and technology.

The historical university reform was amongst the most significant changes in the history of higher education. Along with Aalto University, the university turned into a foundation-based, multidisciplinary university.

As of the 1st of January 2012, the school is called the School of Arts, Design and Architecture.


Throughout its history, the school, and its students, have with their efforts had an impact on the direction of Finnish culture and design. They have gained international recognition through their work. The top names of Finnish art, design and architecture Alvar Aalto, Juhani Pallasmaa, Eliel Saarinen, Ilmari Tapiovaara, Bertel Gardberg, Arno Ruusuvuori, Reima Pietilä, Mikko Heikkinen, Tapio Wirkkala, Severi ParkoTimo Sarpaneva, Kaj Franck, Birger Kaipiainen, Erik Bruun, Kirsti Rantanen, Dora Jung, Rut Bryk, Vuokko Nurmesniemi, Antti Nurmesniemi, Yrjö Kukkapuro, Pentti Sammallahti, Yrjö Wiherheimo, Janna Syvänoja, Harri Koskinen, Elina Brotherus, Paola Suhonen, Riikka Pelo have all been students at the School of Arts, Design and Architecture.

Page content by: | Last updated: 08.11.2016.