Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Night at the (Aalto) Museum

Hi there,

I have some great news to share, yesterday I defended my doctoral dissertation! The topic of my dissertation was eco-labeling in the airline industry. This was a good reason to celebrate and as it is the academic tradition in Finland the doctoral candidate has to arrange for a dinner party (Karonka) in honor of the opponent. I decided to have my post-doctoral dinner party in no other place than the Alvar Aalto Museum's own restaurant, Cafe Alvar.

I have already reported on the Alvar Aalto Museum in some earlier posts, however, so far I haven't told much about Cafe Alvar. The restaurant of the museum is located on the ground floor and functions as cafe for museum's visitors as well as a lunch restaurant. In addition to that can the restaurant also be booked for special occasions such as dinner parties etc.

Having the dinner party in an building designed by Alvar Aalto was certainly the crowning of my defense day. Not only the building itself but also the entire interior was designed by the master himself. Even the napkins used during the dinner featured his famous Siena design.

It is needless to tell that I also mentioned Alvar Aalto in my dinner speech and pointed out my special relationship to his work reflected through this blog. Also my colleagues, friends and family know about my passion and brought me many gifts related to Alvar Aalto and his work.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

European Aalto Summer Tour

Hi there,

it is once again time to make plans for the summer vacation. For this summer I have decided to tour Europe by train and to visit some of Aalto's finest works in Sweden, Germany, France and Italy. I will start off from Finland on July 18 and cross the baltic sea by boat. From Stockholm I will reach Avesta and Uppsala which feature two of Aalto's late 1950s and early 1960s works. Then I will head down to Denmark and Germany where I will visit Alvar Aalto sites in Bremen, Essen and Wolfsburg. Next the journey will take me to France where I will visit the world famous Maision Louis Carre. Finally I will take the night-train from Paris to Milan in order to reach Riola di Vegato where the famous Church of Santa Maria Assunta is located. From Riola it is not a long way anymore to Venice where I will visit the Finnish Pavilion designed by Alvar Aalto in 1956. Below is a detailed (preliminary) schedule of my European Aalto Summer Tour:

July 19  Sundh Centre Commercial Residential Building / Aaltohuset in Avesta/Sweden
July 19  Västmanlands-Dala Student Union Building in Uppsala/Sweden
July 21  Wolfsburg Cultural Centre in Wolfsburg/Germany
July 21  Wolfsburg Church and Parish Centre in Wolfsburg/Germany
July 21  Detmerode Church and Stephanus Parish Centre in Wolfsburg/Germany
July 23  Neue Vahr High-Rise Apartment Building in Bremen/Germany
July 23  Essen Opera House/Aalto Theater in Essen/Germany
July 29  Maision Louis Carre in Bazoches-sur-Guyonne/France
July 30  Church and Parish Centre Santa Maria Assunta in Riola de Vergato/Italy
July 30  Finnish Pavilion for the Venice Biennale 1956 in Venice/Italy

This journey will certainly bring me closer to my ambitious goal, set in 2010, of visiting all 80 Alvar Aalto sites around the world. After visiting these buildings the only missing Aalto building not located in Finland will be the Aalto Library in Vyborg/Russia, however, there are some plans already in the make to also visit this masterpiece during the upcoming summer. So stay tuned for many more exciting new pictures and stories of Alvar Aalto's architecture!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Alvar Aalto in Switzerland

Site No. 61: Schönbühl Apartment House in Lucerne / Switzerland (1964-67)

Grüezi and regards from Switzerland where I just recently visited a new Alvar Aalto site in the beautiful city of Lucerne. While Lucerne is famous for having the world's oldest surviving truss bridge (built in 1333), which is one of the main tourist sites in Switzerland, it also features a building designed by Alvar Aalto.

Probably less well-known and also not located in the historic centre is the so called Schönbühl high-rise apartment house that Aalto designed and built here in the mid-1960s. The building is located in the Schönbühl quarter, about 2 kilometers from the historic center. One can reach the site either by bus or by a 20 min walk from the historic center, all you have to do is to follow Tribschenstrasse.

The 16 stories building itself is the largest in the area, so you hardly can miss it. The actual high-rise apartment building is part of a larger complex that also contains a shopping center, the so-called Schönbühl Center.

The Schönbühl high-rise building follows the prototype of the better-known Neue Vahr high-rise apartment building Aalto designed in Bremen / Germany. Both buildings feature a so-called fan-like arrangement of the apartments in order to optimize space in the buildings and within the apartments.

While the staircase and elevators are on the north side, the building opens up towards the south like a fan where also all the large windows and balconies are located that bring light into the apartments. I think this is once again an interesting example of Aalto's genius design in terms of optimizing space and natural light.

The building itself differs from other high-rise buildings of that time certain through its wave like shape. Nevertheless, the building fits in my opinion very well into its surrounding. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to enter the building and to discover the interior as only people living in the building can gain entrance to the building and I didn't want to interfere with tenants and disturb their privacy.

Finally before returning to the historic center of Lucerne I noticed that there are new construction projects under way right next to the actual site presented in this post. It captured my attention because the new buildings, that are going to be build in the neighborhood, are also designed by two Finnish architects which are following the traditions of Alvar Aalto. It is nice to see that Alvar Aalto's legacy endures, not only in Finland but also beyond.