Alvar Aalto: some interesting facts

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It will be 3 years old on Friday, February 125 іfrom the birthday of the "father of modernism" in Northern Europe, the architect and designer Alvar Aalto (1898-1976).

PRAGMATIKA.MEDIA decided to collect some interesting facts from the life and work of the Finnish master.



In 1916, Alvar Aalto entered the Helsinki University of Technology to study architecture. However, before he could get a higher education, civil war broke out in Finland. Aalto went to fight for the "whites" and took part in the decisive battle in Tampere. After the end of the war, he returned to the student bench and graduated from the institute in 1921. In the summer of 1922, he was officially drafted into the army, from where he was demobilized as a junior lieutenant.



Alvar Aalto's style transformed over time from Nordic classicism to modernism. At the same time, the idea of ​​a "gezamtkunstwerk", that is, a universal work of art, was of great importance in the architect's work. Work on the project included the design of not only the building itself, but also its contents: interior spaces, decor. This was especially evident in the Paimio sanatorium (1929–1933), for which Alvar and his wife Aino created interiors and furniture.

Paimio Sanatorium (1929–1933)

Wives of architects

Alvar Aalto was married twice — and both times to his colleagues. His first wife was Aino Marcio, whom he met in 1924, when she came to work in his studio. The couple worked together on many projects in the field of design and architecture. In 1949, Aino died of cancer. Three years later, Alvar married a second time - to the architect Elsa Myakiniemi, who worked as an assistant in his office.

Aino and Alvar Aalto



Elsa Myakiniemi (Aalto)

Savoy vase

Another area of ​​Aalto's activity was object design. In 1935, he founded his furniture company Artek. In 1936, Alvar and Aino created the Savoy vase, which has an asymmetrical wavy shape, for the competition. The Aalto vase is considered one of the most recognizable objects of Scandinavian design and has been in mass production since 1937. Today it is produced by the Iittala company.

Savoy vase


Brick was one of Alvar Aalto's favorite materials. A certain period in the architect's work was even called "red" because he preferred brick, wood, and copper. Among Aalto's most striking brick buildings are the MIT campus in Massachusetts (1948) and Alvar Aalto University in Espoo (1974). In the construction of the experimental house in Muuratsalo (1952), the summer residence of the Aalto family, more than 50 types of bricks of various shapes and sizes were used.

MIT campus in Massachusetts (1948)

Alvar Aalto University of Espoo (1974)

Experimental House in Muuratsalo (1952)

Bad Habits

"Architecture cannot be created in an office environment," Alvar Aalto once said. And, apparently, in order to create the necessary creative atmosphere in the workplace, the architect, as they say, often applied himself to the bottle. However, this admiration did not go too far.


Money, medal and wine

After Alvar Aalto's death, his name was honored in various ways in his native country and beyond. So, the face of the architect adorned the Finnish 50-mark bill from 1986 to 2002, until the country switched to the euro.

Banknote with the face of Alvar Aalto

In 1976, the year of his death, a postage stamp was issued in his honor.

postage stamp

Alvar Aalto Medal

By the centenary of the architect's birthday, Aalto white and red wine began to be produced. In addition, his name bears the university he graduated from, several streets in Finnish cities, as well as an architectural award — the Alvar Aalto Medal (by the way, Aalto created the design for it himself).