Sunday, November 10, 2013

The third Year - 15 000 page visits

Dear reader,

Once again it is time to celebrate, this blog has been now online for 3 years! While I am writting these lines more than 15 000 people have visited this blog. When I started this blog three years ago I would not have expected that it might create so much of interest. I am honestly overwhelmed!

Also in the third year I have visited many new Aalto buildings. Just a couple of weeks ago I visited my 50. Alvar Aalto site in Tampere. Still there are 30 more sites to go, so also in the future there will be new posts and pictures of Alvar Aalto's architecture. 

Beside new sites I have also visited several Aalto buildings in the past year which I have presented already earlier in this blog. At the moment I am collecting pictures of different Aalto buildings, during different seasons, here in Jyväskylä, the city with the most Aalto buildings in the world.

For the fourth year I am planning on some more detailed posts about Aalto buildings here in Jyväskylä. Beside that I am also planning to visit new Aalto sites, mainly in Finland but also in Central Europe. I am also planning to visit the freshly renovated Aalto Library in Vyborg / Russia next summer.

So, stay tunned and thank you for your interest in my blog!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Alvar Aalto No. 50

Site No. 50: Tampella Co. Pekola Housing Area in Tampere (1941-1952)

Train to Tampere
Hi there! After 3 years of existence of this blog I have the pleasure to present you today the 50. Alvar Aalto site I have ever visited! To make this visit even more special, I visited the Tampella Housing Area in Tampere on my birthday a couple of days ago. A day trip to Tampere, as a tribute to my birthday, brought me to this neigbouring city of Jyväskylä which is about 150 kilometers from here or 90 minutes by train. The Tampella Housing Area is located in the district of Tammella and perfectly embedded into this area of appartment houses mostly errected after the WWII. Here are first some pictures of the housing area:

The precise address of the Tampella Housing Area is Ilmarinkatu 27-35. The housing area consists altogether of 5 appartment houses which were build during the 1940s. The houses belong to Aalto's early red brick periode. Today the houses are owned by TOAS the Tampere Student Housing Foundation so mainly students of the University of Tampere life there.

Even so the housing area is hardly distinguishing itself from the surrounding appartment houses some of the Aalto typical elements can be seen, especially when it comes to the windows and doors. However some of the windows and doors have been changed during time and don't look anymore original Aalto which is quite a pity.

 The house number 35 was just under renovation during my visit as can be seen at the picture above. 

To round up my visit to Tampere I went to the Art Museum where they had a photography exhibition about Bauhaus architecture by Gordon Watkinson. It was interesting looking at the photographs taken from buildings desinged by the famous Bauhaus architects in the 1920s and 1930s. I certainly could see elements in common with Aalto's early works from the 1930s and 1940s. That was at a time while he still hadn't created his own style and were more doing architecture common for that periode. The Tampella Housing Area is a good example of that periode in Aalto's work and definitely worth a visit while being in Tampere.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Alvar Aalto in Lahti

Site No. 49: Church of the Cross in Lahti (1969-79)

Today I have the pleasure to present another master piece of Aalto's work the so called Ristinkirkko or Church of the Chross in English. This stunning building is located in the center of Lahti on a hill and can easily be seen from the market square which is basically the centre of Lahti. It fits quite well into its environment without standing out too much.

This was the fourth and last church Aalto built in Finnland after the churches in Muuramme, Imatra and Seinäjoki which were presented in earlier posts. Certain similar elements especially of the Seinäjoki church but also of the one in Imatra can be found in Lahti. Among those are of course the large windows and the lamps. While the outside is kept in red brick, actually uncommon for Aalto's later works, the interiour is white and the furniture consists of natural light wood. The large wooden cross behind the altar is typical and stays as an example for all Aalto's churches.

A speciality is also the large cross in form of many small windows at the front wall above the main entrance:

The church seen when approaching from the street that comes up from the market square:

The main entrance doors:

A walk around the church, the building is surrounded by a park and a graveyard is located to its right:

When entering the church through the main entrance the large window cross becomes even more visible due to the incoming light. Fascinating are also the stairs leading to the second level:

The main room of the church is dominated by large windows that allow a lot of natural light to enter the building, a typical Aalto element:

A nice element are also the lamps which reminded me a lot about the lamps Aalto used for the Seinäjoki church:

Visiting the second floor give a totally different perspective and is highly recommended:

The window cross seen from the second floor:

Some more impressions from the first floor. It was actually difficult for me to leave this building, there were so many interesting details to discover ...

Fascinating was also the closeness to nature which was transfered into the building through large windows facing the surrounding park:

The Church of the Cross is for me truely one of Aalto's most stunning works. Since I have discovered this church I am visiting it almost every time when I go to Lahti which is due to the fact that I have relatives living there quite often case. Every time I visit this building I discover some new interesting detail that fascinates me. I would say this is a must see for all Aalto fans!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Alvar Aalto's Life

Hi there, and welcome back to my blog. Today I would like to present two new Aalto sites which I visited in Helsinki, The Studio Aalto and The Aalto House. It was really interesting to see where Aalto worked and where he lived. I guess from all the sites I visited to far these two were the places that brought me the closest to Aalto's work and his life.

Site No. 47: Studio Aalto in Helsinki (1954-63)

Both the Studio Aalto as well as the Aalto House are located in the district of Mukkiniemi which can most conveniently be reached by tram line 4 from the city centre of Helsinki in about 20 minutes. Get off at the stop called "Tiilimäki" and walk up the Tiilimäki street until you reach number 20. The house is run by the Alvar Aalto Foundation and open to the public. Guided tours are arranged for visitors. Further information for opening hours and entrance fees can be found here. If you visit both the Studio Aalto and the Aalto House you will get an discount at the second site so safe your entrance ticket!

The building itself is a bit hidden from the street by a large wall, the front entrance doesn't show towards the street but towards the drive. Behind the building there is a inner yard with a small nice garden and seating facility in form of a half circle with different levels like which reminded me of an ancient theater. Large windows allow a lot of natural light to flow into the building.  

The entrance area in the ground floor contains also a small collection of books about Alvar Aalto his work and life:

The offices of the architects, still in use by the staff of the Aalto Foundation:

Alvar Aalto's desk:

The show room of the Studio:

Very efficient use of day light:

The Studio contains many models of buildings designed by Alvar Aalto among them also a model of the Studio Aalto itself:

A model of the Töölö area (a district in central Helsinki) which supposed to be entirely redesigned by Alvar Aalto. In the end unfortunately only the Finlandia Hall was realized:

A model of the "Neue Vahr" High-rise apartment house in Bremen / Germany, a site I haven't visited so far:

And finally a model of the impressive Aalto centre in Seinäjoki which I visited in Summer 2011:

Site No. 48: The Aalto House (Riihitien Talo) in Helsinki (1935-36) 

Not far away from Studio Aalto is Alvar Aalto's home the so called Aalto House or "Riihitien Talo" in Finnish. The Finnish name obviously came from the address of the property which is Riihitie 20. Also this building is run by the Aalto Foundation and open to the public, guided tours are arranged for visitors. For a exact schedule, entrance fee and opening hours please consult the following link.

Finally I got to see the house Aalto designed for his family and of course for himself as well. Before the Studio Aalto was built Aalto used parts of his house as his studio. Once his architecture company had out-grown the space of the facilities he moved his work to the 1950s new build Studio Aalto. But still the Aalto House contains the original studio:

The largest part however of the Aalto House contains the living space for the family Aalto which is devided into two floors. The living room is located next to the former studio which can be seen in the background of the following picture:

The dinning room next to the living room:

The stairs leading to the second floor where the bedrooms are:

Various bedrooms for the parents, the children and guests ...


... a small living room in the second floor ...

... and a large balcony:

Finally many of Aalto's design elements can be found on display at various spots in the house: