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10 Projects by Alvar Aalto Which Highlight the Breadth of His Built Work

09:30 - 3 April, 2016

Alvar Aalto was born in Alajärvi in central Finland and raised in Jyväskylä. Following the completion of his architectural studies at the Helsinki University of Technology he founded his own practice in 1923, based in Jyväskylä, and naming it Alvar Aalto, Architect and Monumental Artist. Although many of his early projects are characteristic examples of 'Nordic Classicism' the output of his practice would, following his marriage to fellow Architect Aino Marsio-Aalto (née Marsio), take on a Modernist aesthetic. From civic buildings to culture houses, university centers to churches, and one-off villas to student dormitories, the ten projects compiled here—spanning 1935 to 1978—celebrate the breadth of Aalto's œuvre.

AD Classics: Nordic Pavilion in Venice / Sverre Fehn

09:00 - 30 March, 2016
AD Classics: Nordic Pavilion in Venice / Sverre Fehn, The Nordic Pavilion (Giardini, Venice). Image © Åke E:son Lindman
The Nordic Pavilion (Giardini, Venice). Image © Åke E:son Lindman

Three were originally invited to draw up plans for a ‘Nordic’ pavilion: the Finnish partnership Reima and Raili Pietilä, Sverre Fehn from Norway, and the Swede, Klas Anshelm. Following the selection of Fehn’s proposal in 1959, Gotthard Johansson wrote in the Svenska Dagbladet of the project’s “stunning simplicity [...], without too many architectural overtones”[1] – a proposal for a space able to unite a triumvirate of nations under one (exceptional) roof.

The Nordic Pavilion (Giardini, Venice). Image © Åke E:son Lindman The Nordic Pavilion (Giardini, Venice). Image © Åke E:son Lindman The Nordic Pavilion (Giardini, Venice). Image © Åke E:son Lindman The Nordic Pavilion (Giardini, Venice). Image © Åke E:son Lindman +30

AD Classics: Jyväskylä University Building / Alvar Aalto

09:00 - 28 March, 2016
AD Classics: Jyväskylä University Building / Alvar Aalto, © Nico Saieh
© Nico Saieh

Jyväskylä, a city whose status as the center of Finnish culture and academia during the nineteenth century earned it the nickname “the Athens of Finland,” awarded Alvar Aalto the contract to design a university campus worthy of the city’s cultural heritage in 1951. Built around the pre-existing facilities of Finland’s Athenaeum, the new university would be designed with great care to respect both its natural and institutional surroundings.

The city of Jyväskylä was by no means unfamiliar to Aalto; he had moved there as a young boy with his family in 1903 and returned to form his practice in the city after qualifying as an architect in Helsinki in 1923. He was well acquainted with Jyväskylä’s Teacher Seminary, which had been a bastion of the study of the Finnish language since 1863. Such an institution was eminently important in a country that had spent most of its history as part of either Sweden or Russia. As such, the teaching of Finnish was considered an integral part of the awakening of the fledgling country’s national identity.[1]

© Nico Saieh © Nico Saieh © Nico Saieh © Nico Saieh +24

Floating Restaurant / Simo Freese Architects

05:00 - 16 March, 2016
Floating Restaurant / Simo Freese Architects, © AVP-Ilmakuvaus
© AVP-Ilmakuvaus

© Simo Freese © Antti Luutonen © Simo Freese © Esko Tuomisto +17

How a Soviet Governmental Residence, the K-2 Dacha, Became a "Manifestation of the Finnish Dream"

04:00 - 15 March, 2016
How a Soviet Governmental Residence, the K-2 Dacha, Became a "Manifestation of the Finnish Dream", The K-2 Dacha, St. Petersburg. Image © Egor Rogalev
The K-2 Dacha, St. Petersburg. Image © Egor Rogalev

In this article, which originally appeared in the Calvert JournalKsenia Litvinenko narrates the story of the K-2 Dacha – a governmental residence in St. Petersburg which sought to shrug off Russian Classicism and Soviet Modernism in favor of the principles of Finnish Modernism. Illustrated by photographs by Egor Rogalev and researched alongside Vladimir Frolov, this article examines a Modernist gem that you probably won't have heard of, or seen, before.

If you ever find yourself in St. Petersburg, take a taxi along the Pesochnaya embankment, far away from the polished attractions of the city centre. Sit back and watch the landscape changing on the other bank of the Malaya Nevka. Among the trees you will see the former dachas of Russian nobles, private residences of local officials and the buildings of the new elite, overlooking the river. This is the best and perhaps the only perspective from which to see the K-2 dacha.

© Egor Rogalev © Egor Rogalev © Egor Rogalev © Egor Rogalev +13

AD Classics: House of Culture / Alvar Aalto

05:00 - 14 March, 2016
AD Classics: House of Culture / Alvar Aalto, Courtesy of Flickr user Wotjek Gurak
Courtesy of Flickr user Wotjek Gurak

Originally built as the headquarters for the Finnish Communist Party, the House of Culture (Kultuuritalo in Finnish) has since established itself as one of Helsinki’s most popular concert venues.[1] Comprising a rectilinear copper office block, a curved brick auditorium, and a long canopy that binds them together, the House of Culture represents the pinnacle of Alvar Aalto’s work with red brick architecture in the 1950s.

AD Classics: Säynätsalo Town Hall / Alvar Aalto

06:00 - 9 March, 2016
AD Classics: Säynätsalo Town Hall / Alvar Aalto, © Fernanda Castro
© Fernanda Castro

Occupying the center of a small farming town in Finland, Säynätsalo’s Town Hall might appear almost too monumental for its context. Designed by Alvar Aalto in 1949, the town hall is a study in opposition: elements of classicism and the monumental blended with modernity and intimacy to form a cohesive new center-point for the community. These and other aspects of the design initially proved somewhat divisive, and the Town Hall has not been without controversy since its inception.

Courtesy of Flickr user Leon Courtesy of Wikimedia user Zache Courtesy of Wittenborn & Company Courtesy of Flickr user Leon +13

Look Inside a Selection of Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish Architecture Offices, Photographed by Marc Goodwin

04:00 - 9 March, 2016
Look Inside a Selection of Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish Architecture Offices, Photographed by Marc Goodwin, Inside the studios of Jägnefält Milton. Image © Marc Goodwin
Inside the studios of Jägnefält Milton. Image © Marc Goodwin

Architectural photographer Marc Goodwin has recently completed "the ultra-marathon of photoshoots:" twenty-eight architectural offices in twenty-eight days, spread across four capital cities – Oslo, Stockholm, Copenhagen, and Helsinki. His aim was to understand what sort of spaces architects in the Nordic countries operate in, and how they differ between each respective country. From former boathouses to stables and coal deposits, Goodwin has captured some of the most unique working environments the profession has to offer.

Studiopuisto. Image © Marc Goodwin Tham & Videgård. Image © Marc Goodwin Leth & Gori. Image © Marc Goodwin Norrøn. Image © Marc Goodwin +33

Tapio Wirkkala Rut Bryk Foundation Initiates International Idea Challenge

05:10 - 4 March, 2016
Tapio Wirkkala Rut Bryk Foundation Initiates International Idea Challenge

The lifework of Tapio Wirkkala and Rut Bryk has had a deep impact on the shaping of Finnish and Scandinavian design identities. The duo was open to new thoughts, easily excitable and pioneers in their field in many senses. Throughout their careers in design and teaching, Tapio Wirkkala and Rut Bryk offered new paradigms to designers, students and ordinary citizens in post-war Finland. 

Community Centre Kastelli / Lahdelma & Mahlamäki

05:00 - 2 March, 2016
Community Centre Kastelli / Lahdelma & Mahlamäki, © KUVIO
© KUVIO

© KUVIO © KUVIO © KUVIO © KUVIO +19

Finnish Nature Center Haltia / Lahdelma & Mahlamäki

03:00 - 29 February, 2016
Finnish Nature Center Haltia / Lahdelma & Mahlamäki, © Mika Huisman
© Mika Huisman

© Mika Huisman © Mika Huisman © Mika Huisman © Leuku Oy_Voitto Niemelä +40

Pauhu Pavilion Constructed for Tampere Architecture Week in Finland

12:00 - 28 February, 2016
Pauhu Pavilion Constructed for Tampere Architecture Week in Finland, Courtesy of Tampere Architecture Week
Courtesy of Tampere Architecture Week

The Pauhu pavilion was constructed as part of TampereFinland's 2015 Tampere Architecture Week, an annual event that aims to explore ideas about architecture and urban design by bringing together design students and professionals from the city. The 2015 theme -- interaction -- brought forth a discussion between architects and other citizens of Tampere.

The pavilion functions as an open-stage for performances and public debates, and also aims to promote forward-thinking ideas about the innovative use of wood in architecture. The name “Pauhu” refers to the “distant roar generated by the Tampere rapids, by the city around the pavilion, as well as by the artists and presenters the pavilion is hosting.” 

Exhibition: Paimio Sanatorium – Light, air and health

10:24 - 22 February, 2016
Exhibition: Paimio Sanatorium – Light, air and health

Paimio Sanatorium, an early major work by Alvar Aalto, is the subject of an exhibition on show in the Gallery at the Alvar Aalto Museum from 12 February to 10 April 2016. The exhibition is based on a conservation management plan prepared for the first time in Finland. The plan involves the most detailed investigation so far of the hospital, which was built for tuberculosis patients.

Nine Projects to be Highlighted in 'In Therapy', the Nordic Contribution to the 2016 Venice Biennale

04:00 - 19 February, 2016
Nine Projects to be Highlighted in 'In Therapy', the Nordic Contribution to the 2016 Venice Biennale, RRA's National Tourist Route in Trollstigen is among nine selected projects which will be displayed in-depth. Image via RRA
RRA's National Tourist Route in Trollstigen is among nine selected projects which will be displayed in-depth. Image via RRA

The Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design (ArkDes) have revealed that In Therapy: Nordic Countries Face to Face—the exhibition for the Nordic Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale, curated by David Basulto—will partly comprise "a contemporary survey of Nordic architecture." 300 projects, drawn from over 500 submissions to a recent open call, will be complemented by an in-depth study of nine projects completed post-2008 by practices including Tham & Videgård, Reiulf Ramstad Architects, and Lahdelma & Mahlamäki.

"Just as Sverre Fehn’s pavilion is a crystallisation of Nordic architecture—embodying a precise and fluid articulation of structure, light, and nature—the nine we have chosen to focus in on as particularly representative of the contemporary scene have a similar gravitas and complexity – but with their own distinct identities" says Basulto, who has made the selection alongside James Taylor-Foster, Assistant Curator.

Tree Hotel / Tham & Videgård (Harads, Sweden). Image © Lindman Photography Finnish Nature Centre /Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects (Haltia, Finland). Image © Mika Huisman Puukuokka Housing Block / OOPEAA Office for Peripheral Architecture (Jyväskylä, Finland). Image © Mikko Auerniitty Råå Daycare Center / Dorte Mandrup (Kustgaten, Sweden). Image © Adam Mørk +12

Finnish Architects Win Competition to Connect Two Alvar Aalto Museums

12:00 - 3 February, 2016
Finnish Architects Win Competition to Connect Two Alvar Aalto Museums, Silmu. Image © Sini Rahikainen, Hannele Cederström, Inka Norros, Kirsti Paloheimo, Maria Kleimola
Silmu. Image © Sini Rahikainen, Hannele Cederström, Inka Norros, Kirsti Paloheimo, Maria Kleimola

A group of young Finnish architects - Sini Rahikainen, Hannele Cederström, Inka Norros, Kirsti Paloheimo, Maria Kleimola - has won an open competition seeking ideas to "connect and integrate" two Alvar Aalto masterpieces - the Alvar Aalto museum and the Museum of Central Finland in Jyväskylä's Ruusupuisto park. With their entry, "Silmu," the winning team was selected over 689 other entries for creating a sensible proposal that met the competitions main goal - "to adapt to its worthy environment in a balanced way, and to find a natural connection with the architecture of Alvar Aalto."

“The high-end entries stand out from the rest with their clear, striking ideas and formal properties. The best things about Silmu were its atmosphere and the subtle contours. It was also seen as adding an extra, tranquil element between the Alvar Aalto Museum and the Museum of Central Finland, while further increasing the functionality of the outdoor spaces,” says Director of the Alvar Aalto Foundation Tommi Lindh.

Spotlight: Alvar Aalto

07:00 - 3 February, 2016
Spotlight: Alvar Aalto, Jyvaskyla University. Image © Nico Saieh
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. For his characteristically Finnish take on architecture, Aalto has become a key reference point for architecture in the Nordic countries, and his commitment to creating a total work of art left many examples of his design genius not only in buildings but also in their interior features, including furniture, lamps, and glassware design.

Frozen Architecture: From Glistening Snow Shows to Multi-Colored Ice Festivals

09:30 - 21 January, 2016
Frozen Architecture: From Glistening Snow Shows to Multi-Colored Ice Festivals, Oblong Voidspace - Jene Highstein & Steven Holl. The Snow Show, Lapland, 2003 and 2004. Image Courtesy of Fung Collaboratives, Photo Credit: Kostamoinen
Oblong Voidspace - Jene Highstein & Steven Holl. The Snow Show, Lapland, 2003 and 2004. Image Courtesy of Fung Collaboratives, Photo Credit: Kostamoinen

Winter is the perfect time to build structures with ice, a time and a technique that together offer the possibility of a pure white architecture. With a cloudy sky the condition culminates into an impressive whiteout: white architecture, the landscape and the sky dissolve into a diffuse unity without a visible horizon. If clear skies emerge a subtle contrast of warm and cool white appears with yellowish sunrays against the blue sky. However, the ice itself has striking effects as well: The surface appearance ranges from crystal clear glass to soft opaque impressions. And, for the long nights, illumination achieves an additional magical glow and extends the short daylight time.

Worldwide, snow shows, ice hotels and festivals have attracted numerous visitors with glistening snows and stunning lighting solutions. Futhermore, this frozen water strategy presents a sustainable solution par excellence, where the manufacturing and even disposal causes no harm to the environment. Read on to explore the coolest projects and events featuring architects and artists from Finland to China.

Art Suite 2016. Under the Arctic Skin by Rob Harding & Timsam Harding. Image © Icehotel, Asaf Kliger. www.icehotel.com Icehotel 25 by Anja Kilian, Sebastian Andreas Scheller, Wolfgang-A. Lüchow. Image © Icehotel, Paulina Holmgren. www.icehotel.com Oblong Voidspace - Jene Highstein & Steven Holl. The Snow Show, Lapland, 2003 and 2004. Image Courtesy of Fung Collaboratives, Photo Credit: Menne Stenros Ice Time Tunnel - Tatsuo Miyajima & Tadao Ando. The Snow Show, Lapland, 2003 and 2004. Image Courtesy of Fung Collaboratives, Photo Credit: Jeff DeBany +7

'In Therapy' – the Nordic Contribution to the 2016 Venice Biennale

04:00 - 20 January, 2016

The Nordic nations—Finland, Norway and Sweden—have reached a pivotal point in their collective, and individual, architectural identities. The Grandfathers of the universal Nordic style—including the likes of Sverre Fehn, Peter Celsing, Gunnar Asplund, Sigurd Lewerentz, Alvar Aalto, and Eero Saarinen—provided a foundation upon which architects and designers since have both thrived on and been confined by. The Nordic Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale—directed by Alejandro Aravena—will be the moment to probe: to discuss, argue, debate and challenge what Nordic architecture really is and, perhaps more importantly, what it could be in years to come.

We're asking for every practice (and individual) across the world who have built work in Finland, Norway and Sweden in the past eight years to submit their project(s) and be part of the largest survey of contemporary Nordic architecture ever compiled.

Update: the Open Call for In Therapy closed on the 24th January 2016.