Centre Tower of the Helsinki Observatory

restoration and structural research

Client: University of Helsinki


The Helsinki Observatory, completed in 1834, was designed by Carl Ludvig Engel, a key figure in Finnish architectural history. A significant feature of the building are the three individual observation towers. When the building was completed, the so-called Argelander refractor was placed in the centre tower.

The top of the tower rotates to allow the instrument to be directed to different parts of the sky. The original rotation mechanism is from the 1870s, and it was in dire need of repairs. The top of the tower is an integral part of the facades, and at the same time a part of the scientific instrument.

The importance of the observatory in the 19th century was not only for astronomical observations, but also for geographical measurements and the maintenance of an accurate time of day, which in part had an significant role in the navigation of ships and railway traffic.

Livady architects have studied the condition and history of the wooden structures and rotation mechanism at the top of the tower and has been performing restoration work there since June 2021.