Sunday, April 15, 2012

Aalto University

Site No. 40: University of Technology - Current Aalto University (1949-76)

Finally after a long winter break I am back with stories about Alvar Aalto's Architecture. It seems Alvar Aalto's name is following me where ever I go here in Finland, after writing my Master's thesis in the "Aalto Sali", using the "Aalto library" on a weekly base here in Jyväskylä, swimming regularly in a swimming hall named after its architect Alvar Aalto: "Aalto Alvari" I finally also studied in his very university the Aalto University! The Aalto University was founded in 2010 based on the merge of three former separate universities in Helsinki region, the School of Economics, Helsinki University of Technology and The University of Art and Design Helsinki. More information you can find here: 

Studing business and economics at the Jyväskylä University I was invited to take part in a one-week intensive course at Aalto University School of Economics. This gave me also the chance to visit the campus of the Aalto University of Technology designed by Alvar Aalto. The campus is located in Otaniemi which belongs to Espoo, a neighbour city of Helsinki within Helsinki metropolitan region. Unfortunatelly my visit took place on a Saturday and therefore most of the buildings were closed with exception of the library. A second visit in the near future is planned to gain also pictures from inside of the other buildings.

Main Building (1949-65)

The campus was build in the same periode as the University of Jyväskylä main campus and certain similarities can be seen between those two only Universities designed by Alvar Aalto. The red brick style dominats the scene, there is as well a huge main building like in Jyväskylä which contains a huge lecture room with a rising floor and a half round shape.

Library (1964-70)

The library was the only building open on that Saturday, below also some pictures from inside. Like in all the libraries designed by Alvar Aalto also here he tried to get as much natural light into the building as possible. Alvar Aalto's signature plate was missing at the main building but could be found at the library main entrance. As I recently learned, those plates were not originally desinged by Alvar Aalto but added later in the 1990s to most of the buildings desinged by Aalto. The owner of the buildings had to pay for those plates and according to the staff members in the Alvar Aalto Museum in Jyväskylä not all building owners were interested in adding those plates to their buildings.

Further University Buildings

Beside the main building and the library also other department buidlings were desinged by Alvar Aalto. Below some additional impressions of the Aalto University.

Student Housing TKY 2 (1964-70)

Beside the University buildings Alvar Aalto also designed a dorm for students nearby the university which is located in Jämeräntaival 1.

Power Plant (1960-64)

Sometimes it seems that Alvar Aalto's portfolio did not have any boundaries, there is almost nothing that was not designed by Alvar Aalto, starting from private houses, churches, teathers, entire universities, a boat, a emergency shelter and even a power plant. The power plant is loacted right behind the university main building and viewable from outside.

Sports Hall "Otahalli" (1949-52)

Not far from the student housing located in Otaranta 6 is the sports hall "Otahalli" desinged by Alvar Aalto.

Site No. 41: Shopping Centre and Bank (1960-61)

Close to the library of the Aalto University in Otaniemi Aalto also designed in the early 1960s a shopping centre and a bank.The building was extended in the late 1980s and nowadays it is used by Finnish post and some other small shops. The address is Otakaari 11. Interesting in this building is that it shows already elements of Aalto's later white periode while he was at the same time still building the university across the street in red brick.


  1. Oh, wow! This is like entering an alternate reality version of the University of Jyväskylä campus area.

  2. Indeed Aalto University's Otaniemi campus and our JYU main campus have many elements in common.