The spark for the Haltia building and its design came from a poem in Kalevala, the Finnish national epic, on the creation of the world. According to the poem, in the beginning, only the elements water and air existed. Ilmatar, the maiden of the air, grew tired of her loneliness and descended into the primal ocean. A duck looking for a place to lay eggs made its nest on Ilmatar’s knee and laid six golden and one iron egg. The hatching of the eggs made Ilmatar’s knee too hot, so she moved it, making the eggs roll down into the water and break. The pieces formed the earth, the sky, the sun, the moon, the stars and the clouds.
The Haltia building resembles a duck hatching its eggs. The tower is like a bird’s neck, with the head turned to look towards Lake Pitkäjärvi. The solar panels on the roof resemble a bird's feathers. Finally, the duck's egg is found at Haltia’s main exhibition.
An excerpt from the first poem in Kalevala, telling the story of the creation of the world:
Thereupon the duck in beauty,
Flying slowly, looking round her,
Spies the shoulders of the maiden,
Sees the knees of Ether's daughter,
Now the hapless water-mother,
Thinks them to be grassy hillocks,
On the blue back of the ocean.
Thence she flies and hovers slowly,
Lightly on the knee she settles,
Finds a nesting-place befitting,
Where to lay her eggs in safety.
Here she builds her humble dwelling,
Lays her eggs within, at pleasure,
Six, the golden eggs she lays there,
Then a seventh, an egg of iron;
Sits upon her eggs to hatch them,
Quickly warms them on the knee-cap
Of the hapless water-mother;
Hatches one day, then a second,
Then a third day sits and hatches.
Warmer grows the water round her,
Warmer is her bed in ocean,
While her knee with fire is kindled,
And her shoulders too are burning,
Fire in every vein is coursing.
Quick the maiden moves her shoulders,
Shakes her members in succession,
Shakes the nest from its foundation,
And the eggs fall into ocean,
Dash in pieces on the bottom
Of the deep and boundless waters.
In the sand they do not perish,
Not the pieces in the ocean;
But transformed, in wondrous beauty
All the fragments come together
Forming pieces two in number,
One the upper, one the lower,
Equal to the one, the other.
From one half the egg, the lower,
Grows the nether vault of Terra:
From the upper half remaining,
Grows the upper vault of Heaven;
From the white part come the moonbeams,
From the yellow part the sunshine,
From the motley part the starlight,
From the dark part grows the cloudage.
- translation John Martin Crawford