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  5. Alvar Aalto
  6. 1939
  7. AD Classics: Villa Mairea / Alvar Aalto

AD Classics: Villa Mairea / Alvar Aalto

AD Classics: Villa Mairea / Alvar Aalto
AD Classics: Villa Mairea / Alvar Aalto, © Flickr username: Leon
© Flickr username: Leon

© Alvar Aalto © Alvar Aalto © Alvar Aalto AD Classics: Villa Mairea / Alvar Aalto +12

A collage of materials amongst the trunks of countless birch trees in the Finnish landscape, the Villa Mairea built by Alvar Aalto in 1939 is a significant dwelling that marks a transition from traditional to modern architecture. Built as a guest house and rural retreat for Harry and Maire Gullichsen, Aalto was given permission to experiment with his thoughts and styles, which becomes clear when studying the strangely cohesive residence.

© Alvar Aalto
© Alvar Aalto

The constant theme of a shifting and advancing technology is ever present in Aalto's design. The transformation of materials and therefore the experiences created by them form fences and then walls around and through the villa.

© Alvar Aalto
© Alvar Aalto

Starting at a shorter mound of compacted dirt rises a fence roughly woven together from long sticks. A regularity arises as it lengthens and the sticks become more directional and linear, until it merges with the wooden walls of the grass-roof sauna which continues on to form the roof of a outdoor space and walkway.

© Great Buildings
© Great Buildings

This same concept of a morphing technology continues throughout the house, as materials shift form a stone to stone slab to glass and steel in the winter garden room. From the front door to the inside of the house, the materiality of the floor also changes as it becomes progressively more domestic and intimate, from stone to tiles to timber boarding and rugs.

© Alvar Aalto
© Alvar Aalto

As it is placed in such an such a mesmerizing natural environment, Aalto used this to his advantage and designed with the intentions of blurring the lines between being inside or outdoors.

The verticality of the columns existing throughout the house and posts found by the staircase mimic the sea of birch trees that surround the house. Aalto purposely makes each column different, “to avoid all artificial architectural rhythms.”

© Great Buildings
© Great Buildings

The main living area appears to open and close, which reproduces a similar experience as when walking through a forest.

A forest light shines through the undulating screen that forms the wall between the bookcase partitions of the library and the ceiling to further imitate the experience of being outdoors. Upon exiting out of the front door, one is submerged in a row of these columns, which are placed specifically by Aalto to emphasize the continuity found between the environment of both inside the villa and out.

Aalto fuses a modern open plan with the ghost of a traditional-style tupa, which is a large living room of a farmhouse in which poles from the ceiling to the ground mark the boundaries of areas created specifically for different activities. The basic L-shape of the floor plan is very characteristic of Scandinavian architects and is also found in his other house Munkkiniemi, another hint towards a more traditional style.

© Alvar Aalto
© Alvar Aalto

Juxtaposed against these rigid right angle forms that mark edges and boundaries of spaces and textures alike are wave-like forms which are considered by some as symbols of human freedom. Aalvo remarked that the “curving, living, unpredictable line which runs in dimensions unknown to mathematics is for me the incarnation of everything that forms a contrast to the modern world between brutal mechanicalness and religious beauty in life.” This free-form is found throughout the house, from the shape of the swimming pool and balcony spaces to other smaller finer details, like the fireplace.

© Alvar Aalto
© Alvar Aalto
Cite: Megan Sveiven. "AD Classics: Villa Mairea / Alvar Aalto" 28 Oct 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed . <http://www.archdaily.com/85390/ad-classics-villa-mairea-alvar-aalto/>
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46 Comments

archipicture · August 31, 2016

still one of the most fascinating buildings!
www.archipicture.ch

Austin.Miles · November 19, 2013

Looking at Aalto’s work here with the Villa Mairea, his modernistic style is amazing in its contrast, and I can’t believe that the International style did not include his works in their 1932 exhibit. Philip Johnson and Henry Hitchcock t lost that meaning behind the modern style and where foolish in not including Aalto’s work with there so called “masters of modern architects.” Johnson and Hitchcock where a pair of young over-privileged, and rather preachy and aesthetic friends writing about the stripped, futuristic architecture, focusing only on its looks. Aalto though, show the idea that modernism is more than a change in technology and how we use technology, but how humans interact with building and spaces in relation to the natural world is still very much so important, marking a transition in the way one thinks of modern design.

ertcoARCH · June 07, 2012

AD Classics: Villa Mairea / Alvar Aalto http://t.co/kIqyKCAs via @archdaily

Dom · May 23, 2012

Remarkable. It seems like such a hodgepodge of architectural concepts, yet it all manages to come together cohesively.

Jordi Noguera · April 04, 2012

AD Classics: Villa Mairea / Alvar Aalto http://t.co/Z9uPEowi vía @archdaily

ppriolo · February 06, 2012

@ArchDaily Classics: Villa Mairea / Alvar Aalto (1937-39). http://t.co/FOxpBiPW

Scott Abercrombie · January 20, 2012

@55n the legend at work! AD Classics: Villa Mairea / Alvar Aalto | ArchDaily http://t.co/oVusTvOd via @archdaily

Kevin Jeffers · October 20, 2011
David_Llado · June 06, 2011

La casa que recomana Kenneth Franmpton a la Contra de la La Vanguardia: Villa Mairea / Alvar Aalto | ArchDaily http://t.co/U85UPbO

Afonso Condi · November 17, 2010

RT“@hyde_architects: A walk down memory lane with AD Classics, the Villa Mairea (1939) ..Finish Architect Alvar Aalto http://bit.ly/dcmLTh”

hyde_architects · November 17, 2010

A walk down memory lane with AD Classics, the Villa Mairea (1939) The timeless humanism of Finish Architect Alvar Aalto http://bit.ly/dcmLTh

aftermodern.lab · November 03, 2010

AD Classics: Villa Mairea / Alvar Aalto | ArchDaily http://t.co/bYGW31P via @archdaily

Rodolfo Sastre · November 01, 2010

Aprendendo com a História - Classics: Villa Mairea / Alvar Aalto | ArchDaily http://t.co/9ZP9jY8 via @archdaily

ilaria defilippo · October 31, 2010

AD Classics: Villa Mairea / Alvar Aalto http://t.co/ne39xvX via @archdaily #Aalto #Finland #architecture

onion_papa · October 30, 2010

http://tinyurl.com/23fsbdt
arch daily - villa mairea

Lullue · October 30, 2010

I love this house, the finish, the materials and feeling of it. And how modern with green roof and everything ;-)
Though I must say, that I feel a bit dizzy, when looking at the columns surrounding the staircase. I wish he would have done that part more simple, since his argument of "avoiding all artificial architectural rhythms" is contradictional, it's a artificial man-made rythm, no matter what.

Lukas Podhola · October 30, 2010

Epic exterior: Villa Mairea / Alvar Aalto - http://bit.ly/bcK0XQ

Edgard Georges · October 30, 2010

Villa Mairea / Alvar Aalto | ArchDaily: http://bit.ly/codmTb Aalto é o meu preferido do século XX, projetava conjuntamente o mobiliário!

Nicholas Patten · October 30, 2010

AD Classics: Villa Mairea. http://bit.ly/aNEIKp

Gosia Kung, AIA · October 29, 2010

built in 1939. Design by Alvar Aalto http://fb.me/JdoKeRAp

Sean Alston · October 29, 2010

"@ArchDaily: AD Classics: Villa Mairea / Alvar Aalto http://archdai.ly/8Yy8TN #architecture"

Jessica Rina · October 29, 2010

RT @ArchDaily: AD Classics: Villa Mairea / Alvar Aalto http://archdai.ly/8Yy8TN #architecture

Daniel Cornuz · October 29, 2010

Magistral, Villa Mairea de Alvar Aalto http://t.co/ExWXzA6 vía @archdaily

Salis · October 29, 2010

AD Classics: Villa Mairea / Alvar Aalto http://archdai.ly/8Yy8TN

Rick S. · October 29, 2010

I take a bow.

Pere Serra · October 29, 2010

Boon dia!! RT @ArchDaily: AD Classics: Villa Mairea / Alvar Aalto http://archdai.ly/8Yy8TN #architecture

Jakov · October 29, 2010

It seems like most contemporary architects are afraid of composition and avoid it by enveloping buildings in a homogenous skin.

DEZIGN · October 29, 2010

AD Classics: Villa Mairea / Alvar Aalto: ©Flickr - username: rafael rybczynskiA collage of materials amongst the t... http://bit.ly/dzjnht

h.a. · October 29, 2010

so sad....look at the rest of the projects in the website...can anyone be compared with this? It is time for changes

Scott @ Cube Studio · October 29, 2010

AD Classics: Villa Mairea / Alvar Aalto | ArchDaily: A collage of materials amongst the trunks ... http://bit.ly/b2afDG www.cubestudio.info

Scott @ Cube Studio · October 29, 2010

AD Classics: Villa Mairea / Alvar Aalto | ArchDaily: A collage of materials amongst the trunks ... http://bit.ly/b2afDG www.cubestudio.info

Héctor Coss · October 29, 2010

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Héctor Coss · October 29, 2010

RT @ArchDaily: AD Classics: Villa Mairea / Alvar Aalto http://archdai.ly/8Yy8TN #architecture

Architecture+Molding · October 29, 2010

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Glenn Hajadi · October 29, 2010

Finnish master RT @ArchDaily: AD Classics: Villa Mairea / Alvar Aalto http://archdai.ly/8Yy8TN #architecture

Corporate Punk · October 29, 2010

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GR2TF · October 29, 2010

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Barry Maguire · October 29, 2010

AD Classics: Villa Mairea / Alvar Aalto via ArchDaily - ©Flickr - username: rafael rybczynski A collage ... http://tinyurl.com/2votv6a

Yuich Masuda · October 29, 2010

Alvar Aalto??????RT @archdaily: AD Classics: Villa Mairea / Alvar Aalto http://archdai.ly/8Yy8TN #architecture

FAU - UnB · October 29, 2010

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myung seop kim · October 29, 2010

??? ??????.. ???? ?? ?? ????... RT @ArchDaily: AD Classics: Villa Mairea / Alvar Aalto http://archdai.ly/8Yy8TN #architecture

DesignGraph · October 29, 2010
Erik Joya · October 29, 2010

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Tuija Seipell · October 29, 2010

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Bocetos Digitales · October 29, 2010

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Mark Gardner · October 29, 2010

My Fav Residential- Villa Mairea & Fallingwater: AD Classics: Villa Mairea / Alvar Aalto | ArchDaily http://t.co/8D2oJ8J via @archdaily

···

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