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Alvar Aalto (1898-1976)


I'm glad that Harry Charington mentioned the fact that the importance of Aalto's wives has been almost entirely overlooked by history. I was at Aalto's old atelier in Helsinki late last year where some members of the foundation's research team are based. While leading the tour, the researcher pointed out that Aalto was actually pretty poor at detailing and solving practical issues, and relied heavily on (I think) Elissa's knowledge and skill in this area. Also, the conditions of the country itself have always been more conducive to the production of quality architecture than other European nations (particularly the UK). The industrialisation of Finland happened much more slowly in Finland than in other places (which helped the 'craft' based attitude to design) and the Fin's (indeed the whole of Scandanavia) seem to have administration down to a fine art. Even now, Helsinki reeks of a fine balance between urbanity, culture and pragmatism within which Aalto's office buildings (such as the one at Rautatalo) fit very naturally, and which I have never experienced in London, even with all it's great architecture. Did I mention that Aalto (like every famous architect) exploited students, and woe betide you if you were a foreigner working in his office! ' No man is an Island, even unto himself'!

Posted date

7 June, 2012

Posted time

5:25 pm