Sunday, July 15, 2012

Alvar Aalto in Iceland

Flag of Iceland
Finally I am back from a very exciting summer trip visiting three different countries in 20 days including also two new Alvar Aalto sites outside Finland, namely the Nordic House in Reykjavik / Iceland and the only art museum designed by Aalto in Aalborg / Denmark. The third country I visited was the U.S. but unfortunatelly I was not able to visit any of the two Aalto sites over there. But let me now first start with the Nordic House in Reykjavik.

Site No. 43: Nordic House, Library and Cultural Centre in Reykjavik / Iceland (1962-1968)

My flight to Iceland
Visiting Iceland has been a dream of mine for many years as Iceland is the country of volcanos, lava fields, glaciers, geysirs and many other natural phenomena. Getting there from Finland took about 3,5 hours by airplane and 3 hours of time change. While the rest of the country is very sparsely populated Reykjavik with its 200.000 inhabitants can be considered as the only bigger city in Iceland. Below are first some impressions of Iceland and Reykjavik in particular.

Esja mountains close to Reykjavik
Reykjavik from top
Typical inland view
Street in Reykjavik
The Blue Lagoon
Great architecture in the centre of Reykjavik

The Nordic House is a cultual institution with the goal to support the cultural connections between Iceland and the other Nordic Countries. The Nordic House hosts a library focusing on Nordic literature (I could find also a lot of Finnish books there), a restaurant that serves New Nordic food, a shop for Nordic design and exhibition spaces and auditoriums. The Nordic House organizes concerts, art exhibitions, seminars and theatres on a daily base. The building is located not far from the inner city centre of Reykjavik close to the University of Reykjavik. The address is Sturlugötu 5, it is open daily. More information and the event calender can be found also here:

Here are now first some views from outside. The marine blue roof with its wave form easily identifies the building as one of those one's desinged by Alvar Aalto and reminded me also a bit of the town hall of Seinäjoki which I visited last summer.

The Foyer of the Nordic House:

Pictures from the library which uses most of the space of the building. I like especially how smart the limited space was used to add more book shelfs into the library and how Aalto created those small private work spaces between the book shelfs.

The restaurant which offeres a nice view towards the city centre of Reykjavik and the small lake infront of the building as you can see on the third picture:

And finally I took a short look into the auditorium:

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