Spotlight: Alvar Aalto

  • 03 Feb 2015
  • by
  • ArchDaily Architecture News mini
Jyvaskyla University. Image © Nico Saieh

As one of the key figures of midcentury modernism and perhaps Finland‘s most celebrated architect, Alvar Aalto (3 February 1898 – 11 May 1976) was known for his humanistic approach to modernism. Aalto was concerned about creating a total work of art. He did not simply design buildings but also paid close attention to their interior features, including furniture, lamps, and glassware design.

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His architectural style began with Nordic Classicism and moved to International Style Modernism, and eventually evolved into a more synthetic and personal Modernism. He was one of the first and most influential architects of the Nordic modern movement, laying the foundation for the focus on materiality and the phenomenological approach that can often be seen in architects from the region.

Stephanuskirche. Image Courtesy of Samuel Ludwig

Many of Aalto’s greatest works could be characterized as public buildings, such as libraries, town halls and churches, and his Säynätsalo Town Hall is regarded as a masterclass in multipurpose civic architecture for a small town. Due to his more regionally-specific style, Aalto did not work internationally as much as contemporaries like Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe, and most of his buildings were completed in and surrounding North European countries. However he did still complete a number of significant projects abroad, perhaps most notably MIT’s Baker House Dormitory in the United States.

MIT Baker House Dormitory. Image © Wikimedia – dDxc

Check out all of Alvar Aalto’s classic works featured on ArchDaily below:

Cite: Wronski, Lisa. "Spotlight: Alvar Aalto" 03 Feb 2015. ArchDaily. Accessed 23 May 2015. <>