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:


  1. Hello Stefan, can I contact you via email? I am doing an Alvar Aalto road trip around Finland and would like your advice. Thank you, Gustavo

    1. Hi Gustavo, thank you for your comment and interest in Alvar Aalto's architecture. I would love to give you some tips for your road trip, please be in touch with me via e-mail