Alvar Aalto 's is an architecture that manifests an understanding of the psychological needs of modern society, the particular qualities of the Finnish environment, and the historical, technical, and cultural traditions of Scandinavian architecture. Hugo Alvar Henrik Aalto was born in the Ostro-Bothnian village of Kourtane in 1898. The family soon moved to Alajarvi, where his mother, Selma Hackstedt Aalto, died in 1903. By 1907 Alvar Aalto 's father, J. H. Aalto, a government surveyor, had remarried and moved the family to the central Finnish city of Jyvaskyla. In Jyvaskyla the young Alvar Aalto attended the Normal School and the Classical Lyceum, and in the summer months during his teens often accompanied his father on surveying trips. Alvar Aalto entered the Helsinki Polytechnic in 1916, and became a protege of Armas Lindgren (who was partner of E. Saarinen and H. Gesellius during the formative period of Finnish National Romanticism). While a student, Alvar Aalto worked for Carolus Lindberg on the "Tivoli" area for the 1920 Finnish National Fair, and served in the militia during the civil strife following the Russian Revolution. After graduating from the Polytechnic in 1921, Alvar Aalto sought employment in Sweden; unable to secure a position with Gunnar Asplund, Alvar Aalto worked for A. Bjerke on the Congress Hall for the 1923 Goteborg World's Fair.
In 1927 Alvar Aalto won the competition for the Southwestern Agricultural Cooperative Building (1927-1929), and moved his office to Turku. Located on the southwest coast of Finland, Turku, the former Swedish capital, was a major cultural center where Alvar Aalto made numerous contacts that proved important to his development. His friendship with architect Erik Bryggman was coupled with Turku's proximity to Sweden, where associations with Asplund and Sven Markelius provided connections with the continental architectural avantgarde. Alvar Aalto not only attended the 1929 meeting of Les Congres Internationaux d'Architecture Moderne (CIAM), but traveled regularly throughout Europe, making him one of the most knowledgeable architects in Finland of the "new architecture."
During the six years spent in Turku (1927-1933), Alvar Aalto designed the series of buildings that would establish his international reputation. His architecture evolved from the stripped classicism of the Agricultural Cooperative Building toward a full acceptance of the formal and theoretical canons of International Style modernism or "functionalism" as it was termed in Finland. The Turun Sanamat Newspaper Building (1928-1930) was the first work in Finland to incorporate Le Corbusier's les cinq pointes d'une architecture nouvelle. The Standard Apartment Block in Turku (1929), the Paimio Tuberculosis Sanatorium (1929-1933), and the Turku 7th Centenary Exhibition complex (designed in collaboration with Bryggman in 1929) indicate Alvar Aalto 's level of understanding of both International Style modernism and the other avantgarde movements in art and architecture that occurred in the late 1920s and early 1930s. In addition to functionalist principles, Alvar Aalto 's work demonstrated an awareness of Russian Constructivism and the Dutch de Stijl movement, not to mention the work of Johannes Duiker, Andre Lurcat, and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. During this period, Alvar Aalto was an active polemicist who advanced the cause of modernism in Finnish architecture.
architectural standards books
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historic preservation books
interior design books
project planning & management books
study & teaching books
urban & land use planning books Alvar Aalto moved his office to Helsinki in 1933, hoping the capital would provide greater opportunities for commissions, as well as bringing him closer to the city of Viipuri where the Municipal Library (1927-1935) was under construction. Although Alvar Aalto would not receive a major public commission in Helsinki for another two decades. Alvar Aalto 's practice expanded. This was an important period of transition in his work which, with the Viipuri Library, included his house and office in the suburb of Munkkiniemi (1934-1936), the Finnish Pavilions for the 1937 Paris and 1939 New York World's Fairs, the Villa Mairea (1937-1938), and the factory and workers' housing at Sunila (1935-1954). At this time Alvar Aalto received the patronage of Harry and Maire Gullichsen, prominent industrialists, for whom Alvar Aalto had designed the summer house Mairea on the Ahlstrom estate in Noormarkku. The Gullichsens provided Alvar Aalto with entry into Finland's industrial establishment, which resulted in a number of factory and housing commissions throughout Finland, including the complexes at Sunila, Inkeroinen, Kauttua, Vaasa, Karhula, and Varkaus for the Ahlstrom and Stromberg companies. In 1935, with the assistance of Maire Gullichsen and with Nils Gustav Hahl as director, the firm of Artek was formed, which produced and marketed Alvar Aalto 's furniture, fabric, and glassware designs.
During the mid-1930s Alvar Aalto 's work began to embody a more tactile, romantic, and picturesque posture, becoming less machinelike in imagery. The presence of these characterisl ics in his work, coupled with a seemingly rekindled interest in Finnish vernacular building traditions and a concern for the alienated individual within modern mass society, signals a movement away from the functionalist tenets that formed his architecture in the early 1930s. In renouncing industrialized production as a compositional and formal ordering sensibility, Alvar Aalto moved toward a more personal style which solidified over the next decade, a direction achieving maturity in his work executed after World War II.
Bell tower, Kauhajärvi, Finland, 1921 - 1923
Municipal hospital, Alajärvi, Finland, 1924 - 1928
Defence Corps Building, Jyväskylä, Finland, 1926 - 1929
Töölö church, Helsinki, Finland, 1927
Viipuri library 1927
Turun Sanomat newspaper offices, Turku, Finland, 1928 - 1930
Tuberculosis sanatorium and staff housing, Paimio, Finland, 1928 - 1929
Central University Hospital, Zagreb, Croatia (former Yugoslavia), 1931
Municipal library, Vyborg, Russia, 1933 - 1935
Corso theatre, restaurant interior, Zürich, Switzerland, 1934
Finnish Pavilion, 1939 World's Fair, 1939
Baker House, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1947 - 1948
Helsinki University of Technology, Espoo, Finland, 1949 - 1966
House of Culture, Helsinki, Finland, 1952 - 1958
Town centre, Seinäjoki, Finland, 1958 - 1987
North Jutland Art Museum, Aalborg, Denmark, 1958 - 1972
Regional Library of Lapland, Rovaniemi, Finland, 1965
Finlandia Hall, Helsinki, Finland, 1962 - 1971
Building for Westmannia-Dalecarlia Nation, Uppsala, Sweden, 1963 - 1965
Central-Building of the Satellite-city "Neue Vahr", Bremen, Germany, 1962
Mount Angel Abbey Library, Mount Angel, Oregon, 1970