Aalto House

Aalto House

A visit to the Aalto House was a fitting introduction to our Design journey in Finland. We joined a small group for the complete tour, and enjoyed the shop, as well.

In 1934, Aino and Alvar Aalto acquired a site in almost completely untouched surroundings at Riihitie in Helsinki's Munkkiniemi. They started designing their own house which was completed in August 1936.

The house was designed as both a family home and an office and these two functions can clearly be seen from the outside. The slender mass of the office wing is in white-painted, lightly rendered brickwork. There are still clear references to Functionalism in the location of the windows. The cladding material of the residential part is slender, dark-stained timber battens. The building has a flat roof and a large south-facing terrace.

Although the streetside elevation of the house is severe and closed-off, it is softened by climbing plants and a slate path leading up to the front door. There are already signs of the 'new' Aalto in the Aalto House, of the Romantic Functionalist. The plentiful use of wood as a finishing material and four open hearts built in brick also point to this.

The Aalto House anticipates the two-year younger Villa Mairea, a luxury residence where Aalto's creativity was able to come into full bloom. But in contrast to its larger sister, the Aalto House is a cosy, intimate building for living and working, designed by two architects for themselves, using simple uncluttered materials.