Thursday, October 29, 2015

5 Years of following Alvar Aalto

Dear reader,

University of Jyväskylä
today exactly five years ago for the first time I set foot into the Alvar Aalto Museum in Jyväskylä. Before visiting the museum I had only known the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto's name and perhaps seen some of his buildings here and there. I always had an interest in design and architecture but it was this particular visit that changed my life in some way. I got so inspired by this museum's visit that two days later on October 31, 2010 I started writing this very blog. Five years have pasted since. The goal I formulated at the very beginning, namely visiting all 80 Alvar Aalto buildings that exist in the world sounded at that time almost unfeasible. Today five years later I feel I have come closer to this goal than I ever thought. While it was easy to visit first local sites in Jyväskylä and nearby towns, things became more concrete when I did a two days train trip to Seinäjoki, Alajärvi and Rovaniemi in summer 2011. Then in 2012 the destinations became international with Estonia, Denmark and even Iceland as well as Germany later that year. It got a bit more quiet during 2013 and 2014, but I was still visiting key landmarks in Finland such as the Paimio Sanatorium, the House of Culture or Finlandia Hall. Nevertheless, the biggest challenge seemed always to reach the sites across the Atlantic. Finally this year the dream became true and I was able to visit all three sites located in the United States of America, while staying there for a one year research visit at UCLA. I was able to combine all three visits with a 45 day USA roundtrip by train that not only gave me the opportunity to see the entire country but also to visit all three Alvar Aalto sites at once.

By now the amount of visited sites has almost reached 60. Visits have been documented in 45 posts and with more than 1 000 pictures. There are not many of Alvar Aalto's key landmarks left that I haven't visit and covered in this blog. Among the very few ones is certainly the Viborg Library in Russia, the Neue Vahr High Rise-Building in Bremen and the Essen Opera House both in Germany, Maison Louis Carre in France as well as the Church of Santa Maria Assunta in Italy. In Finland remains still the inside of the Finlandia Hall and the Villa Maire in Normakku and Villa Kokkonen in Järvenpää.

But also in terms of readership this blog has seen a steady increase. By now almost 43 000 visitors have been counted and every month approximately 1 500 new visitors are joining. I am especially thankful for this interest which also keeps me up and traveling, photographing and writing about all this wonderful pieces of architecture made in Finland.

Säynätsalo Town Hall

Also the sixth year of this blog will be seeing many new posts related to new site visits. I am currently planning to capture the missing sites in Central Europe with a round trip in summer 2016 by train. Besides that still many sites remain in Finland. Also the update of previous posts will continue as soon as I am able to find time in order to revisit some of the sites especially located in and around Jyväskylä and Helsinki. So dear reader stay tuned and thank you for your ongoing support by reading this blog.


  1. Hello, my dear friend.

    First, I would like to congratulate you about this site. He has been a lesson and a pleasure to be accessed.

    I'm moving to Helsinki in August to study wooden construction at Aalto University. As an architecture student, it is amazing to know the architect's work and all its trajectory. I hope that in this period I'm living in Finland I can increase my knowledge and also get a chance to visit some works of Aalto.

    I set up a map with almost all his works and would like to share with you. There is still some buildings to add, but I believe it's a start. But none of this would be possible without your help.

    Again, Thank You!

    With my best regards,

    Rodrigo Giorgi

    1. Dear Rodrigo,

      Thank you so much for your friendly comments and feedback! I am happy to read that my blog has been an inspiration for you.

      Thank you so much for sharing the map with me. I think you did a great work here. I have been going through your map and found a few buildings you might still like to add, although I think you have tackled Aalto's greatest pieces of work down pretty well. Buildings you might still add are the health building in Alajärvi, the school in Inkeroinen, the Tampella Housing in Anjalankoski (near Kouvola), the stepped terrace house as well as wooden standardized housing and sauna/laundry in Eura, the paper mill and housing in Hamina, housing for Yhteis-Sisu in Hämeenlinna (a spot I just visited last weekend and which I will present soon here on this blog), the Kainula adult education institute, the Sunila sulphate pulp mill and residential area in Kotka, the power station in Lieksa, the governmental offices in Seinäjoki, the Tammisaari Savings Bank, the Tampella housing area and housing of ex-service men both in Tampere, Housing for Strömberg in Vaasa, the shopping centre and bank in Espoo and finally in Helsinki the emergency shelter entrance (Erottaja pavilion) and the Stora Enso country club and sauna.

      How exciting you are moving to Helsinki and are going to study at Aalto University. I hope you will have the chance to visit many of Aalto's great works in as well outside of Helsinki. Please be in touch with me in case you are coming to Jyväskylä, I would be happy to give you a personal tour showing you Aalto's work here in Jyväskylä.

      Good luck with all your studies!