Sunday, December 2, 2012

Alvar Aalto in Germany

Site No. 45: Hansaviertel Residential Building in Berlin / Germany (1955-1957)

My flight to Berlin
Finally after a long absence I am back with a new Aalto site and a new country, Germany. After Finland, Germany is the country with the second most buildings designed by Alvar Aalto and it is also my nativ or nowadays second home country. A business trip brought me to the capital Berlin which is one of the four Aalto cities in Germany. Even though my stay wasn't very long I had the chance to visit the Hansaviertel Residential Building located in Klopstockstraße 30-32 errected in the mid-1950s in West-Berlin. But here are now first some impressons from German capital Berlin:

U-Train 9 at Hansaplatz station

The easiest way to get to the Hansaviertel is by U-Train 9 untill the stop "Hansaplatz". The underground station is located right next to the building. Leave the station in the direction of Kloppstockstraße / Hansabücherei. When leaving the underground station turn right and you will already see the white Hansaviertel Residencial Building.

Here are now some pictures from the building seen from the street. Even though it is just a a residencial building like any other and kept in a very simple way still when having a closer look you can see so many details which make this building unique like all the other Aalto buildings I have visited so far. Unfortunatelly it was not possible to visit the inside of the building.

A speciality of this building is the painting on the ceiling in the entrance area. According to the information given at the spot this painting was drawed by Aalto himself and he also supervised the choice of the exact color and the painting process itself. During renovation work in later years the painting however as overpainted by white color and it was in 2007 that the painting was recovered. The painting shows clear elements of Aalto's savoy vase which is currently produced by Iitala.

Some information about the building and especially about the painting in German provided by the embassy of Finland who has financed this exhibition.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The second Year

Hi there!

Another year has passed and this blog has now been existing for two years. This is a great chance to look back and summarize a bit what has happend so far. Altogher 44 out of 80 Alvar Aalto sites in four different countries have been visited and those visits have been documented in form of various posts containing my personal impressions as well as more than 500 pictures. So far more than 6 000 people have visited this blog, in average about 20 visits take place every day. Thank you very much my dear readers for your interest I hope you will also stay tunned in the future!

Also in the past month I visited many stunning Alvar Aalto sites mainly here in Finland but unfortunately I could not find time to write about those visits or to post pictures so far. I hope I can post more in the upcoming weeks, among the new discovered sites are:

Church of the Cross Lahti

  • The Aalto House in Helsinki (Alvar Aalto's home)
  • Studio Aalto in Helsinki (Alvar Aalto's offices)
  • Church of the Three Crosses in Imatra
  • Church of the Cross in Lahti

and I also have taken new pictures from the inside of the Finlandia Hall in Helsinki, the Muurame Church and the freshly renovated Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences at the Univerisity of Jyväskylä. Beside that my next visit is scheduled which will be in Germany where I am planning to visit the Hansaviertel Residential Building in capital Berlin.

Studio Aalto Helsinki
Church of the Three Crosses Imatra

Monday, July 16, 2012

Alvar Aalto in Denmark

My train to Aalborg
After my vacation in Iceland I continued my journey towards Denmark and I spend one week in Aarhus where I participated in a summer school organized by the local university. From Aarhus I took the train towards the north going to Denmarks fourth biggest city Aalborg. Aalborg is located in the region of North Jutland and is also the region's capital. In Aalborg stands the only building designed by Alvar Aalto in Denmark the North Jutland Art Museum "Kunsten".

Site No. 44: North Jutland Art Museum "Kunsten" in Aalborg / Denmark (1958-1972)

Kunsten is the only art museum designed by Alvar Aalto and it opened its doors to the public exactly 40 years ago in 1972. The museum is within a 15 minutes walking distance from the railwaystatition located in a small valley at a former gravel pit at Kong Christians Allé 50. Approaching it from the street as seen in the picture below the first impression was to be honest a bit disappointing to me. I recognized the building more or less because of the bus stop sign "Kunsten" otherwise I might had passed by without any notice.

Nevertheless my opinion changed rapidly once I got closer to the building. I was especially impressed how Aalto had used that "valley" to somehow separate the building from the loud and noisy street next to the museum. Especially the park next to the building which is separated with high walls from the street really helps to create a feeling of peace for mind.

Interesting is also the buildings pyramidal form which nicely counterbalances the steep slopes of the valley.

Interesting also the back yard of the building where Aalto put two small arenas for open air events.

Here are now a couple of more views from outside and also from the front before we are entering the building:


The real potential of this building anyhow becomes obvious when going inside to the art exhibitions. Being a master of using natural light in all his buildings in this museum Aalto exceed himself. The museum is famous for its beautiful natural light transmitted down onto the works of art via parabola-shaped skylight constructions. But also the layout of the museum is excellent as the design makes it easy and accessible to walk around in. A system of moveable walls makes it easy to alter the size and layout of  the space according to the particular requirements of individual exhibitions. 

Beside the exhibition the museum also has a shop, a nice foyer and a coffee in the basement as well as some offices which were not accessable.

To summarize my summer trip, I am happy that I had the chance to visit two different Aalto sites abroad within the same journey. Two buildings which couldn't be any more different from each other and still you can see in both of the buildings the clear handwriting of Alvar Aalto and also the diversity of his work.