Alvar Aalto

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Alvar Aalto or Hugo Alvar Henrik Aalto (Feb. 3, 1898 - May 11, 1976) was a champion Finnish architect and interior designer. He maintained an impressive reputation via the use of indigenous materials, modernist simplification, and personal expression.[1] There now exists a museum dedicated to him in Jyväskylä.[2]

Life and Works

Aalto studied at the Technical Institute of Helsinki, interrupted by his serving in the Finnish War of Independence. He worked in Jyväskylä and Turku and married one Aino Marsio before returning to Helsinki.[3]

In the late 1920s, he designed the Turun Sanomat Building in Turku and the tuberculosis sanatorium in Paimio. These works were devoid of the simplified neoclassical tenets of architecture that persisted in Finland at the time, and favored smooth and modern white surfaces, flat roofs, and terraces. His early personal style was particularly well-displayed in the Viipuri Municipal Library,[4] though it resembled the works of Walter Gropius. It features copious round skylights and an exceedingly spacial layout and contrasts familiar wood with clinical white smoothness.

In the 1930s, he designed the Finnish pavilions for the World's Fairs in Paris (1937) and New York City (1939). He was exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and began to experiment with wooden, ribbon-shaped furniture and strange modern glassware.[5]

After the Second World War and death of Aino Marsio, he continued his work. He married one Elissa Mäkiniemi in 1952 and proceeded to accept diverse workloads, ranging from a high-rise apartment in Bremen to a church in Bologna, Italy to an art museum in Iran in 1970. In his native Finland, he designed a cellulose factory which included workers' housing.

His epitomizing work is likely the Säynätsalo town hall complex, a modernist brick and concrete building in a forest famed for its Finnish materials.[6][7]


  1. "Aalto, Alvar." The New Encyclopedia Britannica. 15th ed., Vol. 1.
  3. Fleig, Karl. Alvar Aalto.
  6. Gutheim, Farederick. Alvar Aalto.

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