Alvar Aalto, Finnish architect, 1898-1976

Alvar Aalto is the most important and most famous Finnish architect. His first works were done during 1920's and they represented classicism. Workers Club (1924) and Civil Guards House (1929), both in Jyväskylä, are good examples of this period. After these he was influenced by Bauhaus and Le Corbusier and this was seen in his next works; Turun Sanomat newspaper plant and offices (Turku, 1930), Tuberculosis sanatorium (Paimio, 1933) and Municipal library (Viipuri, 1935). These buildings represent pure Functionalism. His next works, like Finnish Pavilions at the World's Fair in Paris (1937) and New York (1939) and Villa Mairea, a private home in Noormarkku (1939) show softer forms and delicate use of wood.

After World War II Aalto was one of the leading architects in Finland and worked abroad, too (for example MIT seniors dormitory, 1949 in USA and Maison Carre, 1959 in France). The most famous buildings in Finland from this period are made of red brick: Säynätsalo Town Hall (1952) and House of Culture (1958) in Helsinki. Churches at Vuoksenniska (1958) and Seinäjoki (1960) are made of concrete.

Aalto was still very active in the 60's and 70's. The Main building of the Helsinki University of Technology in Otaniemi is from 1964. The original plan for the university area was made as early as in 1949 by Aalto, and he has also designed the Library, one of the Faculty buildings, one of the dormitories, the shopping center and the power plant of Otaniemi. His last works, like the Finlandia Building (1971, 1975), a concert hall and congress center in Helsinki are more and more monumental and "sculptural".

Alvar Aalto designed also many town plans. He began to design furniture in the 20's. Chairs and tables made from bent plywood and sold by Artek are famous around the world. There is an Alvar Aalto Museum in Jyväskylä, the home town of the architect.