This year marks the 125th anniversary of Alvar Aalto’s birth. A series of events will take place to celebrate his legacy. To know the intimate side of Aalto, explore his home in Helsinki on this virtual tour.
Functional, simple, and comfortable – it’s one of the iconic homes of 20th century. Designed by Alvar and Aino Aalto and completed in 1936, this house in the Munkkiniemi district in Helsinki, Finland, exemplifies the changing standards of 20th century modern living.
As an example of early 20th century Scandinavian design and architecture, it’s difficult to find a more complete and well preserved site. The house remained a family residence until 1998 and most of the original features and objects there are intact. Now it’s maintained by the Alvar Aalto Foundation, and open to the public as a museum.
Within the development of modernist architecture and design, Alvar Aalto’s approach is known for an intuitive ability to play with spatial dynamics, light and materiality. The house also contains a studio space, where the architectural office was based until the mid-fifties. It represents the modernist ideal, where functionality has been achieved without the loss for comfort. The free design of the plan and the facade, as well as the unhidden structural elements around the house, exemplify key modernist principles, interpreted for this Nordic context.
Through experiments with bent wood Alvar Aalto created different models of chairs and tables. The home is furnished with designs, which represent a modernist sensibility influenced by natural forms and phenomena. Many of these pieces are still in production by Artek, the company founded in 1935, where Aino Aalto was an influential director.
A timeless appeal lies in the simplicity of the Aalto home. The enduring modernist aesthetic and the materials that reference nature are part of a strong cultural heritage, which still informs Finnish contemporary architecture. Elements and formal solutions of this building are reinterpreted in today’s architecture and many of Aalto’s design objects can be found in homes and public buildings all over the world.
Photos and virtual tour: Nikhilesh Haval, Nikreations
Text: Marianna Wahlsten