The Alvar Aalto Museum has launched an online journal of research papers about Alvar Aalto. It should act as a hub for researchers on the works of Aalto. All the papers are free to download and read. Go to alvaraaltoresearch.fi.
Aaltosites is a nice app showing Alvar Aalto buildings has been released. It gives a description and photos and shows the address and puts it on a map for you.
You can also save a list of favourites. It’s for IOS & android at the moment but it only has Aalto buildings in Helsinki. However the aim is to release updates to eventually include all Aalto buildings. (via)
There is an optical illusion that the National Museum tower is built into Finlandia Hall when looking at it from a cafe across the bay. It seems Alvar Aalto most likely put it there deliberately.
Last Thursday night I went to see Adrian Carter give a lecture about Jørn Utzon. It was a warm and poignant lecture given by a friend and colleague and I can’t think of a better tribute to Utzon that he could have given. It provided a timely reminder that Architecture is the power to stir emotion and create relationships between people and places, and that Utzon had that ability above most, so not much more need be said.
Some things I didn’t know also came up of course, that Utzon went to work for Aalto but after only six short weeks found out his wife was pregnant with their child and had to go back to Denmark. I did know already that it was Eero Saarinen who arriving late for the jury on the Sydney Opera House competition picked Utzon’s entry from the rejected pile and said it was the winner. I didn’t know however that so possessed he was with the project that he went back to his hotel that night and drew the perspective view of the building from the harbour that Utzon himself had neglected to submit, in an effort to persuade his colleagues that it was the winning project.
Utzon doubtless pursued a kind of purity of design that had it’s kindred spirit in nature and tried to engineer his projects in the way nature evolves form. Its clear to me many of his spaces and places he made are analogous to natural spaces, of clouds passing overhead, of the roof as tent or enclosure with a kind of bottom up philosophy of served and servant spaces that provided an order that was natural rather than preconceived. That he wasn’t designing buildings in the same way as say Gehry does is clear, and it’s part of what makes his Architecture timeless and so hard to emulate today.
The drawings Utzon’s studio made of the structural solution that was found after two years of fruitless calculations are beautiful and by Rafael Moneo (photo) a then newly qualified Spanish Architect, it makes me wonder what is the Architectural Equivalent of the Bacon number? In the Modernist movement you could use Aalto quite easily to map the connections between Architects the world over. Here the connection is tangible both in a personal and professional form.
The issues of the Opera house budget came up and the tensions between Utzon and Arup the structural engineers, first over the authorship of the structural solution something that Cecil Balmond would know something about and then on their continuing role in the project once Utzon had resigned. Although the Opera House made his name it also broke it in terms of his ability to get further work, there was some, but it could have been so much more.
Adrian Carter instigated and now runs the Utzon Centre which tries to promote the ideas of Jørn Utzon.
The photo above is of the sketch made by Saarinen that helped Utzon win the competition and can be found online at Yale’s Saarinen database here.
The Finnish Pavillion at the 1900 Paris World Fair has been recreated digitally by the Media Lab at the University of Art and Design Helsinki (TaiK). The building was drawn by architects Eliel Saarinen, Herman Gesellius, and Armas Lindgren.
Wearing circular polarization glasses and using a mouse the visitor is able to access a space created using stereoscopic a display. The virtual model of the pavilion can be examined both inside and outside. Spatial sounds make the experience feel real, as if one would be moving inside a historical building. Inside the pavilion model there are digital three-dimensional replicas of some artifacts that were exhibited in Paris.
You can visit the virtual reconstruction in Helsinki in Design Museum Fennofolk â€“ New Nordic Oddity exhibition during 11 June â€“ 28 September 2008. Makes me wonder if there is an Uncanny Valley for immersive 3d visualisations. Its a certainly a step up from the Recreation of Aalto’s 1939 Pavillion which seems now to be offline.
The Aalto University has been created in Helsinki. Made up of the current Helsinki University of Technology, the Helsinki School of Economics and the University of Art and Design, its doors will open August of 2009. Its quite big news because of the groupings these represent. Design, Technology and Economics meaning that policy makers in Finland clearly think that for Finland economically the way ahead is with technology based design in different disciplines.
Apart form being forward thinking to take this attitude, its of course a little controversial, how influential will the economics department be on the artists so to speak, and how well can they or should they integrate? I think there is probably a deeper underlying trend also and that is not only design as a key economic leader but that design and high technology are more and more integrated subconsciously into our daily lives and this is a common theme universally across disciplines.
The Aalto Database is now open in Engish and Finnish, based on Dr GÃ¶ran Schildtâ€™s book Alvar Aalto. A lifeâ€™s Work. Architecture, Design and Art (1994). It covers built and unbuilt work, competitions and masterplans and gives a summary of each building with a photo. Locations, dates and type are easily searchable. But I would like to see them all mapped, a kml link or drawn on a googlemap or suchlike which would be a great adddition. Also more than one illustration but a set of all illustrations and some photos of each project would be good. However as a starting point for a visit to Finland on an Architectural tour or for an Architectural student this is a great first point of call.
You’ll never be an Architect, but aim for a career in journalism!
-Toivo Salervo to Alvar Aalto, who, in the summer of 1916, just before beginning his studies in architecture, was a trainee in Salervo’s architects’ office. #
(photo by georg)
The Architect Shigeru Ban has developed an exhibition of some 14 Alvar Aalto projects which will be showing at the Barbican in London (22 Feb ’07 – 13 May ’07). I hope this exhibition can be brought to Finland too so I can see it. I’ll have to make do with the review by Johnathan Glancey which is excellent, and one paragraph stands out in particular;
As for the Finn himself, he was no saint. Fond of the bottle, something of a philanderer, and certainly no soldier, even at a time when Finland needed all hands to hold back Stalin’s hordes, he nevertheless helped give his country something of the character of responsible inventiveness that continues to drive its economy and society today. (JG)
It’s a bit shallow to see one person in terms of a personality of a whole nation but somehow very tempting in this case, its also illuminating that Aatos work is sufficiently deep that it can out as exemplarary of many different, and contemporary subjects that people choose to read into it. I would also say that Sigeru Ban may come to be seen as fitting into this quite exclusive category of Architects in the future.
Architectural design now more than ever is a shared production with the Chief Architect perhaps if he or she is lucky leading the team, but we all want to believe in the Starchitect as Renaissance genius, while the truth is perhaps more mundane the effect of brand building and name dropping by developers and journalists. David Galbraith has an interesting take on this phenomenon. While many Architects working today actively pursue a strong style or self branding programme only a few admit to the fact, check out FAT architectures ironic (but how much, take a look at their work?) page on how to become a famous architect. Branding architecture for its own sake seems an inherently dangerous thing to do as Architecture and Fashion don’t work to the same time lines or cultural fault lines. I would say the strongest brands in Architecture are those names from the past whose portfolio is still traded on today, usually their furniture and product design, their architectural work is subsumed bythe brand styling of a piece of glassware or chair. Aalto is the perfect example of a world famous architect having been turned into a tradeable brand just think of the savoy vase.
The Villa Carré
by Alvar Aalto has been bought by the Finnish Cultural Foundation. Not only did Aalto design the building but also the interior of the house, including lamps and furniture which have never been put into production as well as items from the Artek range. See the Helsingin Sanomat article here. One thing the article doesn’t say but the Safa website implies is that it will be opened to the public from the Summer of 2007 onwards.
Rebuilt in a computer for the aaltosvoices website (sorry its a bit flashy).
The Finnish Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair in 1939 was the design that marked Alvar Aalto’s international breakthrough. The structure was dismantled right after the Fair ended, just two years after it was completed…….First of all, the story goes that Alvar was not originally interested in this architecture competition, he called it a mere exercise in decorating. Still, pressures and contradictions concerning Villa Mairea, which was being built at the time, got him to turn his gaze to this challenge only three days before the deadline.
A Telegram from Aalto sent to MIT in 1958
‘Dear John just unable to produce enough architectural philosophy you may publish this telegramletter as a substitute stop Sibelius said if you publish three words of explaining music at least two words are wrong this may be true also in my architectural philosophy stop In ordinary discussion in recent decades the traditionally imitation has been pointed out as main enemy number one today is modern formalism non traditional where in human elements are donminating stop True architecture the real thing is only where man stands in centre’ Alvar AAlto 1958
Ever wanted an easy way to find good architecture and how to get there from where you are? galinsky is really clear and concentrates on the basics with a few well chosen modern buildings from around the globe,where they are, how to visit etc,and clear website design. You can contribute also so is in principal open although the site is someones personal webpage. Architourist created by archidose is a collaboratorive wi-ki effort so it might just become really good, however neither these two sites have any finnish or Helsinki entries to date though!
But as I was looking at these two I came across pointingit which is really good as it uses google earth to reference buildings. Google earth as a piece of software is really great for this purpose. So after reading a post on anti-mega I thought I’d see if I could quickly make some sort of contribution ala pointingit! See below for the google earth file for every Alvar Aalto building in Helsinki area.
Note. There are a couple of locations I’m not 100% sure of. They may be in a street block so I may be a building off or so, but I’ve noted these and please comment if you have any corrections!
Note 2. A very interesting aside is that the Aalto foundation appears to miss out two Aalto buildings in the Helsinki area from its list, the Erottaja pavillion (because drunks buy kebabs there?) and the Riihtie block of flats. I will follow up and confirm I really have all the buildings. So my list comes primarily from two shared sources, the Aalto foundation & helsinki.fi page of architecture. It seems strange that the Aalto foundations list does not appear complete.
I missed out the biggest of them all archinform is a great resource for Architects being the largest online database for Architects and Architectural projects and has added google map & earth locations for some of their buildings see comment below from Sascha archinforms editor for the shortcut to the google earth files.