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The Architect on Chasing The Tree: Alvar Aalto

31 January 2020

In February, we continue to focus on architects who were deeply inspired by nature. This month, we travel to Finland and meet the famous Finnish architect Alvar Aalto.

Born in Finland on 3 February 1898, Alvar Aalto was graduated with an architecture degree from the Helsinki University of Technology. This university merged with Helsinki School of Economics and University of Art and Design in Helsinki in 2010. The new university was named after Alvar Aalto, who is known to have designed many of the campus buildings. Aalto University brings together science, technology, arts, design, business, and economics under one roof.

After finishing school, Aalto dived right into the industry and made a name for himself. His work laid the foundations of the understanding of national architectural in his country. He created cutting-edge works and enriched the technical literature of world architecture with unique Finnish approaches.

Aalto’s most famous work is located in Finland. He is also known to have helped Finland get back up on its feet after the Second World War. Reconstruction period and urbanisation movement following the war was led by a commission managed by Aalto.

One of Aalto’s most important works is Viipuri Library which he completed in 1935. Constructed with the aim of “functionality”, the building has a wavy roof line and was made of wooden-based materials. Architecture in Finland is heavily inspired by nature and that’s why wood has a special place in this country. Alvar Aalto also often prefered working with wooden-based materials.

Aalto is very meticulous when it comes to details. When he was designing the Paimio Sanatorium, which was meant for Tuberculosis patients, Aalto made sure the building was functional for its purpose. He prioritized the comfort of patients and created a peaceful yet vivacious atmosphere. Today, Paimio Sanatorium is considered among the best medical establishments in the world.

Father of the wood-bending technique, Aalto gained a fast-paced global recognition thanks to his designs. His work was not only elegant, but also highly functional and durable -they are in high-demand even today. Paimio Chair, Three Legged Stool and Four Legged Stool are among his most famous designs.

Alvar Aalto and his wife Aino Aalto were among the founders of the idealist furniture company Artek which was established in 1935. Artist Maire Gullichsen and writer Nils Gustav Hahl were also among the company’s partners. Artek’s aim was “to sell furniture and to promote modern lifestyle through exhibitions and other educational methods.”

Artek became a succesful business and continues its operation as one of world’s leading furniture companies. One of the 20th century’s significant architects, Alvar Aalto also worked with furniture, textiles, glass; he painted and wrote. He’s still a well-known artist, remembered by his work even today.

Alvar Aalto and Aino Aalto’s wood-bending technique led the way to the Northern European furniture, which has become a global trend. Check out the link below to learn more about Birch tree, the leading actor of this elegant and functional trend.




Architect Alvar Aalto, often prefered working with wooden-based materials.