AD Classics: Viipuri Library / Alvar Aalto

© The Finnish Committee for the Restoration of Viipuri Library and Petri Neuvonen

Despite being one of the seminal works of modern Scandinavian , Alvar Aalto’s Viipuri Library languished in relative obscurity for three-quarters of a century until its media breakthrough in late 2014. Its receipt of the World Monuments Fund/Knoll Modernism Prize for a recent renovation was covered by news outlets around the world, bringing the 1935 building previously unseen levels of attention and scrutiny.

This renaissance is nothing less than extraordinary. Abandoned for over a decade and allowed to fall into complete disrepair, the building was once so forgotten that many believed it had actually been demolished. [1] For decades, architects studied Aalto’s project only in drawings and prewar black-and-white photographs, not knowing whether the original was still standing, and if it was, how it was being used. Its transformation from modern icon to deserted relic to architectural classic is a tale of political intrigue, warfare, and the perseverance of a dedicated few who saved the building from ruin.

In Conversation With Sheila O’Donnell And John Tuomey, 2015 Royal Gold Medallists

John Tuomey and Sheila O’Donnell – recipients of the 2015 Royal Gold Medal. Image Courtesy of RIBA

When Sheila O’Donnell and John Tuomey, who practice in partnership as O’Donnell + Tuomey, were named as this year’s recipients of the RIBA Royal Gold Medal, a palpable collective satisfaction appeared to spread throughout the profession. No one could find criticism in Joseph Rykwert and Níall McLaughlin’s nomination, nor the ultimate choice of the RIBA Honours Committee, to bestow the award upon the Irish team. Their astonishingly rigourous body of work, compiled and constructed over the last twenty five years, has an appeal which extends beyond Irish and British shores. A robust stock of cultural, community and educational projects, alongside family homes and social housing projects, leaves little doubt about the quality, depth and breadth of their mutual capabilities and the skill of those that they choose to collaborate with.

Read the conversation with the Gold Medallists after the break.

Spotlight: Alvar Aalto

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.

AD Round Up: Classics in Brick

Colònia Güell / Antoni Gaudí. Image © Samuel Ludwig

As one of the most ubiquitous forms of construction, it can sometimes be easy to overlook the humble brick. However, this prosaic building method can also be one of the most versatile materials available to architects, thanks to the experimentation of countless architects who, for centuries, have worked to create new forms of expression with the simple material. In this round up, we celebrate architects who, with their architectural classics, have expanded the possibilities of brick craft: Antoni Gaudí‘s fantastical vaulting at Colònia Güell and Alvar Aalto‘s experimental brick patterning at his house in Muuratsalo; the powerful brick piers of Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo‘s Knights of Columbus Building and the Catalan vaults of Porro, Garatti and Gattardi’s National Arts School of Cuba; and finally, what brick round up would be complete without the brick-whisperer himself - Louis Kahn and his all-brick fortress for the Indian Institute of Management.

Alvar Aalto’s Restored Viipuri Library Wins 2014 Modernism Prize

Main stair hall, 2014. Image © The Finnish Committee for the of Viipuri Library and Petri Neuvonen

The 2014 World Monuments Fund/Knoll Modernism Prize has been awarded to the Finnish Committee for the restoration of Alvar Aalto’s seminal Viipuri Library in Vyborg, Russia. “Designed by Aalto and constructed between 1927 and 1935 in what was then the Finnish city of Viipuri,” stated WMF in a press release, “the library reflects the emergence of Aalto’s distinctive combination of organic form and materials with the principles of clear functionalist expression that was to become the hallmark of his .”

A quote from Barry Bergdoll and more images, after the break.

Light Matters: Whiteness in Nordic Countries

Dybkær Church, Silkeborg, . : Regnbuen Arkitekter. Image © Henry Plummer 2010

The Scandinavian countries have developed great buildings that resonate with both the scarce light in winter and the long summer days. Henry Plummer, Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has very carefully studied the various daylight phenomena in the Nordic countries, with extensive photo journeys and brilliant writing that combines an analytical perspective with a poetic touch. His view of daylight looks beyond the practical advantages of using reflective white spaces to facilitate bright rooms; the passionate photographer is much more interested in the light effects that play with the local beauty of nature and touch the human soul.

Read on for more about how Nordic light enters white spaces

Google Launches New Virtual Experience that Takes You Inside Alvar Aalto’s Works

Courtesy of Alvar Aalto Foundation

The Alvar Aalto Foundation has begun a collaborative project with Google to make Aalto buildings even more accessible to the public. Using ’s revolutionary Street View navigation tool, along with its virtual Cultural Institute, the project offers a look inside some of Aalto’s most iconic works of . Learn more about this initiative and see the virtual journey for yourself after the break.

25 Free Architecture Books You Can Read Online

If you don’t have access to an library (and even if you do), sifting through shelves can take hours. Buying books can be even more painful — for your wallet, at least. Instead, why not browse this list of 25 books that are all free and easily accessible online? Some are well-known classics of , but we hope you find a few surprises as well.

Inside “Re-Creation” – Finland’s Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2014

Re-Creation. The Finnish Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale.. Image © Nico Saieh

Re-Creation is a two-part installation based on a concept by Anssi Lassila. One part of the installation was constructed by a Finnish master carpenter and his team, and the other by a Chinese team. Together the two parts of the installation strike up a subtle and complex dialogue between the architects and local builders.

Presented by the pavilion designed by Alvar Aalto in 1956, the installation “takes a stand on our relationship with the modern legacy and its tradition of international dialogue, and represents a quintessential product of topical international dialogue while at the same time offering its own unique interpretation of the dynamic between tradition and modernity.” See images of the pavilion and enjoy a statement from the curators after the break.

Exhibition / Reason & Intuition: Alvar Aalto & Ola Kolehmainen in Soane

© Alvar Aalto Foundation

This summer, the art, architecture and design of will be celebrated in London. Reason & Intuition – Alvar Aalto & Ola Kolehmainen in Soane is a new exhibition bringing together the finest works of an acknowledged great of international modernist architecture and design and three collections of images by an acclaimed Finnish photographer.

Alvar Aalto (1898-1976) was a central figure in international modernism. His sculptural, and highly functional, furniture produced in the 1930s remains influential and very popular.

Reason & Intuition will feature around forty Aalto creations, including chairs, tables, lights, glassware and textiles, as well as rarer pieces, such as a collection of original designs and plans for some of Aalto’s 500 buildings and glassware designed by his first wife and collaborator, Aino.

Title: Exhibition / Reason & Intuition: Alvar Aalto & Ola Kolehmainen in Soane
Website: http://www.ealing.gov.uk/info/200893/pm_gallery_and_house/686/exhibitions/2
From: Fri, 04 Jul 2014
Until: Sun, 24 Aug 2014 
Venue: PM Gallery & House
Address: London,

Erik Møller Arkitekter to Modernize Alvar Aalto’s Kunsten

Kunsten Museum of Modern Art. Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

Erik Møller Arkitekter has been commissioned to modernize ’s white marble Kunsten Museum of Modern Art in Denmark. As reported by BDOnline, the £14 million renovation will restore parts of the listed museum, as well as transform the building’s basement into a new 600 square meter exhibition space.

9 Architects Reflect on the Homes That Most Inspired Them

The homes that inspire architects.

Where do you receive inspiration? Nalina Moses asked the question to nine contemporary residential architects, asking each to choose one residence that had left an impression on them. The following answers were first published on the AIA’s website in the article “Homing Instinct.”

When nine accomplished residential architects were asked to pick a house—any house—that has left the greatest impression on them as designers, most of their choices ran succinctly along the canon of American or European Modern . Two—’s Villa Mairea and Pierre Chareau’s La Maison de Verre—were even tapped twice.

If the houses these designers chose weren’t surprising, the reasons they chose them were. Rather than groundbreaking style or technologies, what they cited were the moments of comfort, excitement, and refinement they offered: the restful proportions of a bedroom, the feel of a crafted wood handrail, an ocean view unfolding beyond an outdoor stair.

Six Essential Materials & The Architects That Love Them

In case you missed it, we’re re-publishing this popular post for your material pleasure. Enjoy!

To celebrate the recent launch of our US product catalog, ArchDaily Materials, we’ve coupled six iconic architects with what we deem to be their favourite or most frequently used material. From Oscar Neimeyer’s sinuous use of to Kengo Kuma‘s innovative use of , which materials define some of the world’s best known architects?

Exhibition: Aalto’s architecture in Rovaniemi

View of the Civic Square From Rovaniemi Town Hall, Hallituskatu 7. Photo: Jukka Suvilehto/Provincial Museum of Lapland

Aalto’s architecture in Rovaniemi, a new exhibition at the Alvar Aalto Museum, takes an in-depth look at Alvar Aalto’s work in and around Rovaniemi. As well as the administrative and cultural centre, the works on show include lesser-known residential and commercial buildings. The exhibition, collated by the Provincial Museum of Lapland, will be open in the Gallery at the Alvar Aalto Museum from 1.11.2013 to 2.2.2014.

Aalto’s work in Rovaniemi began as early as the 1940s with master planning. Over the decades that followed, various buildings were constructed such as the Aho residential and commercial complex in the city centre and the Korkalorinne housing scheme, built according to the garden suburb ideal. Aalto’s monumental is represented by the Town Hall, the Library and Lappia Hall completed between the 1960s and the 1980s.

As well as the architecture, Aalto’s buildings are examined from the viewpoint of visitors, employees and residents. “The experiences of users provide an alternative, complementary viewpoint on Aalto’s buildings, which allows room for critical comment,” says Charlotte Malaprade who has written the exhibition texts.

The Alvar Aalto Museum has supplemented the Timeless exhibition with local comment from Jyväskylä. Experiences of living in the Viitatorni multi-storey block in Jyväskylä are told by the residents themselves in words and pictures.

Title: Exhibition: Aalto’s architecture in Rovaniemi
Website: http://www.alvaraalto.fi/index_en.htm
Organizers: Alvar Aalto Museum
From: Fri, 01 Nov 2013 
Until: Sun, 02 Feb 2014
Venue: Gallery at the Alvar Aalto Museum
Address: Alvar Aallon katu 7, 40600 Jyväskylä sub-region,

“The Hug” / MenoMenoPiu Architects & Paolo Venturella

Courtesy of MenoMenoPiu Architects &

MenoMenoPiu Architects & Paolo Venturella just released their entry for the Alvar Aalto University Otaniemi Campus Competition in Helsinki. Their proposal focuses on the creation of an energy-efficient learning environment that rethinks the traditional courtyard typology. It uses different levels and heights to create a variety of public and private spaces open to both students and inhabitants of the city, all while framing the main building.

The architects’ description after the break. 

Verstas Architects Selected for New Core of Aalto University in Finland

Courtesy of Ltd

Helsinki-based Verstas Architects have recently been announced as the winners of a competition to design a new central campus for the Aalto University in EspooFinland. The new core of the university will sit alongside the campus’s original Main Building and Library designed by Alvar Aalto.

AD Classics: Heilig Geist Kirche / Alvar Aalto

Courtesy of Samuel Ludwig

Aalvar Aalto is arguably one of the most important architects of the 20th century. Known for his all-around care for the design of buildings, Aalto often not only designed the exterior but individual interior features as well. He designed a total of six buildings in , one of them being Heilig Geist Kirche, an Evangelistic Luthern church in Wolfsburg, .  He was asked to design this church on November 5, 1958; it was completed four years later in 1962.

AD Classics: Stephanuskirche / Alvar Aalto

Courtesy of Samuel Ludwig

Stephanuskirche, translated to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of St. Stephen, was designed by and completed in 1968.  It is located in Wolfsburg, , the same town that Aalto’s Wolfsburg Cultural Center was built. Stephanuskirche is among the prominent architectural testimonies of International Modernism in Germany.