The world of Alvar Aalto

Posted on September 14, 2012 by Toothpicker There have been 2 comment(s)

Finlandia Hall (1967-71) and the interior of Academic bookshop (1966-1969)


I still remember how impressed I was after seeing 'Alvar Aalto: Through the Eyes of Shigeru Ban' exhibition at the Barbican back in 2007, as I am a fan of both architects. Hence I couldn't miss the opportunity to visit Alvar Aalto's studio and house in Helsinki, even with the rather steep tickets prices (€17 for one and €30 for both).

After a 20-minute tram ride from the centre, I arrived in the quiet residential area of Helsinki. I stopped a local for directions to Studio Aalto, but she said she had never heard of the place, though she did eventually direct me to the correct street.

I knew I had found the studio when I saw a few Japanese tourists waiting outside. We had to wait outside for the first guided tour to finish, then more Japanese tourists came out... Did Aalto ever think that his house and studio would become THE tourist attractions for the Japanese in Helsinki? I thought it was rather amusing that the local wasn't even aware of his studio in the area!



As one of the most important Modernist architect of the 20th Century, Aalto's influence is hard to miss in Helsinki even though the city's architecture is a mixed bag of Art Nouveau (Jugend), Neo-Classical, Nordic Classicism, Functionism and Modernism. At the studio, there are still sketches and a model of Aalto's proposed city plan (1961) for Helsinki which was not fulfilled by the City Council.


Studio Aalto (1955)


Apart from architecture, Aalto was also well-known for his furniture, lighting and glassware designs. Walking around his studio and house, it was hard to believe that everything was designed so many decades ago. There was a sense of timelessness, everything was simple, durable and functional. The use of light was a key element of his architecture, and this was evident at both his house and studio.


Aalto house (1934-36)


If you are a fan of architecture, then I recommend a visit to both his studio and house ( which are a few streets apart) for their guided tours, but if time is limited, then you can always visit his other sites in the city centre.


Housing for National Pensions Institute ( 1952) and Enso-Gutzeit Headquarters (1959-62)


For more information on Alvar Aalto, his studio, house and museum, check out the official website here. You can also download their free Aalto site App to your phone and plan your own self-guided tour.



This post was posted in Architecture, Travel, Helsiniki, Finnish design, Design, Modernist & Art Deco and was tagged with Helsinki, alvar aalto, Finnish design, modernist architecture

2 Responses to The world of Alvar Aalto

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    Posted on July 22, 2016 at 11:54 am

  • Thanks! Interesting website!

    Posted on July 23, 2016 at 9:16 pm