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Architecture Guide: 20 Must-See Works by Alvar Aalto

Finnish architect Alvar Aalto was a pioneer of modern architecture and design, especially in his use of organic, naturally derived materials. When he decided to embark on a career as an architect, he traveled to Helsinki, the only place where he could find academic training in the profession. His journey did not end there, however, as his work can be seen around the world. Here, we have mapped out 20 of his most notable works that must be seen up close and in-person to truly be appreciated.

Spotlight: Alvar Aalto

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.

MIT Baker House Dormitory. Image © <a href='https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Baker_House,_MIT,_Cambridge,_Massachusetts.JPG'>Wikimedia user Daderot</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en'>CC BY-SA 3.0</a> Muuratsalo Experimental House. Image © Nico Saieh Riola Parish Church. Image © Franco Di Capua Säynätsalo Town Hall. Image © <a href='https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:SaynatsaloTownHall.jpg'>Wikimedia user Zache</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en'>CC BY-SA 3.0</a> + 20

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

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: Riola Parish Church / Alvar Aalto

© Franco Di Capua © Franco Di Capua © Franco Di Capua © Franco Di Capua + 19

Churches  · 
Grizzana Morandi, Italy
  • Architects Authors of this architecture project Alvar Aalto
  • Architect Authors of this architecture project text, Alvar Aalto,