Sunday, November 21, 2010

Alvar Aalto in Jyväskylä

Also in my current home town Jyväskylä many Aalto buildings can be found. Alvar Aalto moved to Jyväskylä in 1903 at the age of five and graduated from Jyväskylä Lyceum ( High school ) in 1916. After that he went for studies to Helsinki but returned to Jyväskylä in 1923 where he opened his first studio. As mentioned earlier Jyväskylä is also the city which hosts the Alvar Aalto museum. The museum was designed by Alvar Aalto himself.

Site No. 8: The Alvar Aalto Museum in Jyväskylä (1971-73)

Therefore starting my tour through Alvar Aaltos architecture in Jyväskylä at the Aalto Museum itself, the place where I basically got inspired to write this blog, seemed quiet natural. The museum can be found in Alvar Aalto Katu 7, the street named after Aalto, next to the Museum of Central Finland which was as well designed by Alvar Aalto.

The front of the Alvar Aalto Museum which doesn't has any windows let the building in the first moment a little bit look like a storage building or something similar. Well by approaching the front entrance the typical Alvar Aalto door handles appear and beside the door a metal plate indicates that you have found the only existing Alvar Aalto museum.

Inside the museum everything is designed by Alvar Aalto and it seems that nothing has been changed regarding the interior. Again I was totally fascinated to see how much effort Alvar Aalto had been spending into each and every detail of his design. A perfect combination of aesthetic and functionality.

The museum mostly focuses on Aalto's buildings and displays a lot of models and drafts. Beside Aalto's buildings the museum also shows a lot of his interior design, such as lamps, chairs but also the famous Savoy vase in different sizes. Downstairs a museum shop and a small cafeteria can be found as well.

Site No. 9: The Museum of Central Finland in Jyväskylä (1956-61)

As mentioned before the Museum of Central Finland is located next to the Alvar Aalto Museum but was completed about 10 years earlier.

Entering the Museum the charm of the 50s welcomes the visitor. In the entrance hall as well in the stair cases the typical Alvar Aalto elements are appearing, the exhibition itself which tells about Central Finland and Jyväskylä does not contain any of Alvar Aaltos signature. The exhibition seemed to been renewed during the past recent years.

Site No. 10: The Jyväskylä Wokers' Club (1924-25)

After visiting the Alvar Aalto Street and its two museums designed by Aalto I headed for the city centre to discover the three buildings which can be found in the centre of Jyväskylä. The first building I visited was the Jyväskylä Workers' Club which was one of the first work Aalto ever did, located in Väinönkatu 7. Apparently I have been in this building several times and haven't ever noticed that it was designed by Alvar Aalto. Well compared to his later works as displayed in former post this building does by far not look that Aalto typical. 

With exception of the "Aalto-Sali" the so called Aalto room the building does not show anything Aalto specific, the bar "O'Malley's" which I have sometimes visited does not have any Aalto typical interior, neither does the "Memphis" at the corner has. The Aalto Sali is normally only opened at some special occasions, maybe some day I will have the luck to gain entrance and will definitely tell more about it on this very blog.

Site No. 11: The Defence Corps Building in Jyväskylä (1926-29)

The Defence Corps Building located not far from the Workers' Club in Kilpisenkatu 8 is as well among Aaltos very early works, built in the late 20s. I passed by this building several times but did not at all realize that it was the one I was searching for. To be honest I was totally disappointed by what I found, the building looked like it wasn't in use anymore for years, well it looked like as it will be removed in the near future. Not really a nice site to look at and I didn't spend much time with it. I think if you see the picture below you understand what I mean.

Site No. 12: The Administrative and Cultural Centre in Jyväskylä (1964-82)

Just on the opposite of the road at Kilpisenkatu 1 the so called Administrative and Cultural Centre of Jyväskylä can be found, designed by Alvar Aalto in the 60s and 70s. This building hosts the Jyväskylä Theatre as well as some administrative offices of the City of Jyväskylä and was also formerly partly used as the Police Headquarters of Jyväskylä.

View of the Jyväskylä Theather roof from the water tower Vesilinna:

The administrative offices of the city can of course not been visited so easily but the Jyväskylä Theater is public and the lobby is open daily during the ticket selling hours. I took the chance to have a closer look at the lobby and the ticket sales offices and was one more time impressed by all the details and the effort Aalto spend into the design of the interior.

During a second visit in September 2011 I got the chance to also see the inside of the theater. The theater had its open doors day and I got access to the lobby, the two theaters and even to back stage. Below some pictures from that special visit.

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