In 1898, Alvar Aalto was born in the Finnish village of Kourtane. Later, the family moved to Jyväskyla, his home until 1927. After completing a local school, the Jyväskylä Classical Lyceum, Aalto entered the Helsinki Polytechnic in 1916. While in school, he was a member of Armas Lindgren’s atelier and was employed by Carolus Lindberg. Like many young architects, he gained experience in the offices of successful architects, usually without pay.
After graduating in 1921, Aalto worked in various offices until he established his own in Jyväskylä, in 1924. Shortly thereafter he married fellow architect, Aino Marsio. Three years later, Aalto’s office was moved to Turko, where his most notable projects were the Paimo Tuberculosis Sanatorium (an excellent example of the International Style) and the Viipuri Library.
Around the time his wife died, in 1949, Aalto’s architectural style became mature, uniquely Finnish and extremely modern. His buildings of that time were generally characterized by red brick, copper and timber.
Closer to the end of his life, in 1976, Aalto began using interior and exterior courtyard like spaces, staircases, landings, handrails and incomplete geometric shapes in his buildings. The results, such as the Vuoksenniska Church, are astounding; the way the light is directed by the flow of the building, and the integration of many textures and shapes.
Including buildings, Aalto’s art ranged from town plans to furniture and jewlery. He was an easy speaker, with the knack for language, and easy to like. The result is simply Finnish.
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