Alvar Aalto

Trained in the Finnish National Romantic style, Aalto learned a deep respect and sence of tradition for Finland’s native landscape, the use of natural materials and nature’s connection to architecture. Being born around the turn of the century, he also developed an appreciation for the aesthetic of the International Style. Alvar Aalto is studied to this day, as one of the greats architects this world has produced, his mastery of blending these styles is arguable without equal.

Aalto never forgot his place, as the architect, but rather put the function of a buliding in front of his own personal adjendas. Today architecture is riddled with ‘starchitects’ or those who strive to make curvalinear forms created from a diagram no one other than the architect can really understand. Often these bulidings suffer, underperform and are consistantly over budget. It is their alienation to the human use of space which is the cancer of these designs.

Aalto’s work, seemingly, never forgets where it came from or who is was made for. His attention to all aspects of design is part of the reason his works are continually analyzed, yet never completely understood.

Work Cited

 “Alvar Aalto, technology and nature”. Princeton, NJ: Films for the Humanities. 2003

Glanville, Ranulph, Quantrill, Malcolm. Finnish Architecture and the Modernist Tradition. E & FN Spon. 1995. 15, 13, 17, 21, 85

Gruen, Phil. “Selling Modernism: Wright, Barragan, and Aalto. Washington State University. 2007.

Kostof, Spiro. A History of Architecture. Second Edition. Oxford University Press. 1995. 599

Lars Sonck 1870-1956. Museum of Finnish Architecture. 1982. 117

Nerdinger, Winfried. Ed. Alvar Aalto, Toward a Human Modernizm. Prestel Verlag, 1999. 49,55,58,63,52,64

Nesbitt, Kate. Theorizing a New Agenda for Architecture. Princeton Architectural Press. 1996. 93

Ockman, Joan. Architecture Culture 1943-1968. (Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., New York): 250, 251, 252

Pearson, Paul David. Alvar Aalto, and the International Style. Watson-Guptill Publications. 31,57,89-91

Porphyrions. Demetri. Sources of Modern Eclecticism. Academy Editions, 1982. 57

Saarinen, Suomessa in Finland. Museum of Finnish architecture. 1984. 48,11,6,28,5,64,70-78,82

Weston, Richard. Alvar Aalto. Phaidon Press Limited. 1995. 8

Weston, Richard. Villa Mairea, Alvar Aalto. Architecture in Detail. 2002.


~ by billkirkwood on October 5, 2009.

One Response to “Alvar Aalto”

  1. Bill,

    I appreciate your reading of Aalto’s designs are built for a specific place, with consideration for the users. You could elaborate on how the work specifically does that: which aspects of the design follow from the Finnish traditions and which are tuned to the body.

    It’s important that you add the references from which you got these images. While generally it is important to ask permission from the authors before re-publishing images, if you use a small sample, give attribution and use it for educational purposes, it can fall into Fair Use.

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