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Alvar Aalto

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9 Architects Reflect on the Homes That Most Inspired Them

The homes that inspire architects.
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 architecture. Two—Alvar Aalto’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.

AD Classics: Villa Mairea / Alvar Aalto

© 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.