The homogeneous Verla milieu has, by some miracle, been spared the fate of demolition or tasteless additions, and the distinctive architecture is a sight in itself.
Dippell, Creator of the visual identity
The German-born architect Carl Eduard Dippell (1855-1912) from Vyborg created the look of the present Verla in 1885-1902. He was the brother of the chief owner of the Mill, Wilhelm Dippell. Eduard Dippell had studied in Hanover and qualified as an architect in 1876.
From the moment he graduated, Eduard Dippell was a highly prolific architect. Before starting on Verla he had already designed a groundwood mill, a two-storey office building, a cathedral, a chapel, a house, a lookout tower and a tile factory.
While the Verla mills were under construction, there were buildings designed by him going up elsewhere: a church centre, warehouses, barracks and residential blocks.
Wiser for the fires of 1876 and 1892, Eduard Dippell chose brick as his building material. The brick architecture of the Verla Mill was chiefly inspired by the industrial architecture of England and Germany. There is a wealth of ornamental brickwork, and the buildings are given a distinctive look by the pillared projections, the facade ornamentation evocative of a church, and the imaginative decoration of the roof.
The first building designed by Dippell for Verla was the owner's residence, in 1885. This represents the international ornamental trend in decorative wooden architecture that spread to Finland in the 1860s and was first taken up by designers of railway stations and villas.
The old drying loft had burnt to the ground in 1892, and the new one was therefore to be of a more lasting material: bricks. An astute architect, Dippell turned it round so that the church-like facade dominated the entire mill area as it was approached from the rapids and road.
The fine four-storey drying loft was completed in record time in late 1893. The tight schedule is reflected in a letter to the Rector of Valkeala requesting him to make the following announcement in church on Sunday: "There is freight for over a hundred horses from Selänpää station for any horsemen who report for duty."
New mill built around the old
The most unusual of the building projects was that for the new groundwood and board mills. The problem was that the mill needed new groundwood and board units, but by 1895 the old log building was little over ten years old and the company could not afford a shutdown lasting several months. Although the Verla Mill was, even when it was first built, a little old-fashioned with its neo-Gothic architecture, it was technically progressive. The traditional wooden floors were, for example, replaced by ones of reinforced concrete.
The solution was ingenious: Dippell would design an outer shell in keeping with the decorative architecture of the drying loft and a slightly bigger new mill would be built of brick round the old one. Once the outer walls were in place, the old wooden building could be pulled down and replaced by new support and roof structures. The mill could thus remain in production almost throughout the project.
Extension of owner's residence and store building
Three years later, in 1898, it was time to extend the manor-like owner's residence by adding a two-storey tower. A colourful garden was laid out round the house, along with a bowling pavilion and a hexagonal shed for the fire-fighting equipment.
In 1902 a decorative store was further added to the grounds, again designed by Dippell. Part of this was later converted into a flour mill. Instead of the red brick used elsewhere at Verla, Dippell chose rare light feldspar brick from the Rakkolanjoki works on the Karelian Isthmus.